About Me

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The past two years have been all about adjusting to motherhood and finding my way through it via craft. The out pouring of this came in the form of my blog Aunty Mum. Now I'm finally finding my feet, the children are growing, I'm getting some independence and my interests are morphing . . . into cooking. Join me in exploring creativity in many forms, food, fabric, frowns and laughter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gotta keep those beverages warm

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It’s official, I have a new obsession. This is my second tea cosy in two days. I was even braving the bugs under outdoor lights last night in a bid to get it finished.

Now this is a tea cosy and I’m completely in love.

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I did have plans to frequent my outdoor table this morning and drink copious amounts of tea while making grey squares. However, the best laid plans go awry and Nanny and Kayley have organised me a morning of making hay (mowing the lawn) and other garden stuff. Thankfully I can gad about on my Dad’s ride-on mower this morning so it’s not really a hardship but my romance with my new cosy will have to wait. If you want to make this lovely and see many more colour combinations check out Jen’s blog here.

And to cap off the month, here’s a look at the things I’ve been making. It’s been a busy month it seems.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

How Embarrassing

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I’m almost too embarrassed to share this story, but it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Last night I heard some scurrying behind the fridge. We often have field mice in the house at this time of year, it’s hot, it’s dry and the sheep have eaten all the lovely places to make mice nests. So I wrestled with the fridge and pulled it out. During this process, it slammed against the wall and jammed my fingers. “Phyllida” I said to myself (my proxy swear word, apologies if anyone by that name reads this blog). Alas, no mouse behind so I shoved it away.

This morning Rogan lost his Hot Wheel car under the fridge so I had to wrestle with it again (taking care not to jam my fingers). Coming around to the side to see if I could lean the fridge over so Rogan could find his car, I came across this sight. Very cartoon-esk I feel. Poor little mouse, squished mid-escape. Ah well, that’s one less to be concerned with.

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And I’m afraid I may have hit upon another obsession. Tea Cosies. I found this amazing pattern on Pinterest last night and had to get straight into it this morning. Unfortunately my camera doesn’t handle red very well so this looks more jaffa than the Choc Cherry I see while I’m hooking. Can’t wait to show you the finished product. This one’s definitely a keeper!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Great Reveal and Lots of Tea

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It’s taken just over a month (40 hours of crochet time) and it’s complete. I’m so hoping my Mum will love this as much as I do. The colours are better than what I thought. I only have one issue, and that’s the placement of the squares. I followed the guide from the pattern and have ended up with a row of dark brown. If I were to do it again, I’d probably assemble them differently. Maybe that’ll teach me to join as I go.

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I can just see Mum throwing this over her legs as she has a read/snooze on a cold winter afternoon. Wish it were mine!

 

And now for the tea cosy. I am shocking at making anything for myself and getting it finished. I seem to have much  more integrity about completion of projects when they’re destined for another home. However, we’ve had a lovely afternoon on Nanny and Granddad’s beach and while we were down there I made this . . .

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It’s just a little big for my teapot but I’m certain it’ll still help keeping the tea hot enough for a second or even third cup. I got the pattern from here if you want to check it out.

The best part is the little teapot button I had just waiting patiently for a project such as this. I will have to move the button over a bit for a tighter fit on my pot, but that’s a small price to pay. I think I may even do it now so I can head outdoors to work on the grey blanket for the school gala. In fact, I’m stunned, that’s two projects down this week and only one large one to go . . .  except . . . I think I’ve found myself another blanket project to keep me busy. More about that soon!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The brink of exhaustion

It was a pitiful sight in my home last night. The children were all in bed in tears (they were rescued from their bed shortly after and given dinner before being settling down for the night . . . I’m not that cruel) and I was cowering in my shower with the bathroom door locked also in tears.

It’s been no secret that I’ve found this six week period particularly difficult and last night seemed to be the bottom of the barrel. I think I even ruined my parent’s lovely dinner out as they rang at 10 to see how we were and I was in floods of tears again.

Thankfully, once you get to the bottom of the barrel there’s no option but to claw your way to the top again. So this morning, puffy eyed, shattered and more than a little battle weary I realised I was too exhausted to go through another day of tantrums, fights and battles. So with a quiet voice, quiet spirit, I set the table for breakfast and the day began.

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And although it hasn’t been a perfect one, it’s been a whole lot better than those preceding it. I set the children up with some painting, which they stuck at for over an hour. Janae (and lunch) put an end to it when she’d had enough and started attacking the others with yellow paint.

And this morning I treated myself to a bit of lady-like time to myself.

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I got out the beautiful tray I was given for my birthday, the tea pot, the blanket and hid myself away around the corner. The only concession I made was the Whinnie the Pooh mug as I’ve accidently smashed about three of my china ones in the past week. Tea always tastes better from a stainless steel pot into a china cup but beggars can’t be choosers. Of course, this lovely morning highlighted one important flaw . . . I don’t have a tea cosy. I know I started making one in the winter, but it never got finished. So I’m determined that I’m going to make one in the next few days.

The children are now tucked into bed (sans tears), I’m about to fill the teapot once more and carry on with the final stages of the blanket. I’m dying to show you but it’s just so gorgeous that I want it blocked and beautiful and laying proudly on my bed before I show it off. It will only spend but moments on my bed before being bundled away safely for March 24 and presentation for mum.

So it’s with a slightly lighter heart that I start my evening and am filled with hope for another slightly better day tomorrow.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning New Skills

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If you’d been listening at our key hole this morning you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a lesson in soft porn. I’ve been trying to teach Kayley to knit and we’ve had to devise a language that we both understand.

The basic knit stitch goes something like this:

1. Front poke (that’s put the needle into the stitch from front to back).

2. Slip (slip the yarn between the needles from back to front).

3. Back poke (bring the back needle under the slipped yarn from the previous step through to the front).

4. Flip it off (take the stitch off the left needle onto the right one).

Thankfully a nine year old was completely oblivious to my filthy mind and the sniggers I had to keep to myself as we talked through each step on each stitch. We started with 30 stitches, now we have 29 in total but we’ve only managed to knit through 22 thus far. Ah well, we’ll try again tomorrow.

I am quite impressed with my composure actually. More than once I wondered to myself why on earth I’d undertaken this task in the second to last week of the summer holidays. Not once did I raise my voice, lose my temper and often we giggled and laughed. I quite enjoyed myself, and hopefully she did too. We’ll have to wait and see if this turns into the scarf she thinks she’s making.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One down . . . two to go!

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It was a mad rush towards the very end as Kayley was on her way home with Nanny and I was sat at the sewing machine sewing the front to the back but we got there in the end.

I have to admit to putting this on my bed and having a very brief thought that perhaps I could make Kayley something else and keep this for myself. However, when I think of all the love I tried to put into every stitch, this is entirely her cushion. I can’t wait to see it on her bed when she turns nine.

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The back in an upholstery fabric that was given to me by a dear family friend. I used this for the back of Janae’s heart cushion, and knew it was perfect for Kayley’s Summer Garden Cushion.

 

But now for a game of

Spot the Difference 

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I’d have had the cushion finished yesterday but for a wee glitch with the bottom flower. I’d made a fundamental boo boo which meant I couldn’t use it and had a wee tantrum, shoved it all into my bag and left if for the day. Thankfully I felt much kinder towards the errant flower this morning and set to making another for the last square. Let’s see if you can spot the error!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

There are no words left in me today

So today I leave you with the latest three squares and the links to their patterns.

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Tri colour Square

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Sweet Dreams Square

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Friendship Ring Square

Quote of the week

"You know those days where you look at your gorgeous children and are full of complete infatuation for them?.......... Yeah, well today has been like the opposite of that!"
My friend Meg . . . I so understand where you're coming from today Meg!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I’ve been a bit naughty

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I’ve been working on my grey blanket today. I know I mentioned that I might give it away on the blog but I’m still a very long way from 500 posts so I have said, if it’s finished in time, I’ll donate it to the school to raffle off at the school gala. But that’s not the naughty part.

I have decided that I would like not to repeat any squares and have it a true sampler blanket. This means quite a bit of research into ideas and patterns. Well, today I had a good look at Crafty Minx and her square a day challenge from last year (probably where I pinched the idea from).

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I’ve already made a square from a link she gave but today I completely pinched ideas and patterns straight from her pictures. Shame on me! However, one of the benefits of crochet is that it’s relatively easy to figure out how things are put together. The square above was one I pinched. It has turned out completely different from the original but the guilt is still there a little.

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This is the other square I pinched. I quite like this one. I’m not sure if I’m going to use it though. I’m trying very hard to make sure the squares are all of the same size and have the same number of stitches across the sides to make joining easy when the time comes. I usually join as I go, but because of the huge range of patterns I want to be able to lay them all out first once they’re complete and figure it out from there. This square may be a little more difficult to put together. We’ll have to see.

Now we’ve got to prepare some vegetables and salad. Our lovely friend Mrs Hale is dropping off a roast chicken for our dinner in half an hour. We are so blessed by her. About once a month she turns up on the doorstep with a meal for us and they’re always delicious. Yum, roast chicken without having to cook it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

There are some days . . .

When I realise that I’m am, in all honesty, a bit thick. You see, I have a moan, on a constant basis that no one listens when I tell them I want a gazebo to go over my patio for my birthday or Christmas. And this morning we were all sweltering in the sun and I had a private moan to myself.

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Janae had taken her kitchen outdoors to mix up a concoction of juice, water and weet bix (her daily cereal of choice).

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Rogan brought out his little marble run that he’d made and tried out Janae’s drink (without much enthusiasm it seems). Meanwhile I sat on my swing seat realised I needed to get the kids some shade.

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Out came their manky old paddling pool gazebo, which totally did the trick. But where was mine I kept asking. I knew I had a patio in shade around the other side but kept thinking I needed a table and chairs out there to really enjoy it. Suddenly I looked up and there, in bright sunlight was an outdoor table and chairs that we never use because they’re in full sun.

So, without further ado I marched them all round to the other side of the house, still in cool shade and made up my home there for the morning.

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I feel so silly that I hadn’t thought of it way back at the beginning of summer and that I’ve suffered from sun burned knees for weeks now. Oh well, the upside is this . . .

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I managed to get four more squares done for Kayley’s birthday cushion. Actually, it’s turning out huge so I may have to call it a pillow soon. I just makes me think of a summer garden (belonging to a gardener rather than my summer garden).

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And while the children were in the pool this afternoon I made a couple more of these. I still kick myself that I didn’t think of the whole grey and white combo being stunning. It’s difficult to leave these alone long enough to make more of the cushion/pillow. Ah the dilemma of having too many exciting things to make.

I did, however, go to bed very late last night having stayed up making the square on the right, thinking I’m bordering on obsession now. And to think, a few years ago I hated granny squares with a vengeance. What was I thinking?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yarn Shortages . . . always a dilemma

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But not today as I have two birthdays to plan for now. I suddenly realised that while I’m beavering away on my mother’s blanket for her birthday and mentally planning Kayley’s it’s Kayley that birthdays first so I need to be doing some serious multi-tasking.

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So when I realised that I was almost out of the light pink yarn for Mum’s blanket I wasn’t too disturbed that I’d not get into town for more until Thursday. I am a little disappointed that I’m so close to finishing the squares (only seven more to go . . . which at 45 minutes per square is still a while in real time, but not long in crochet time).

And I’ve been broGrey Blanketwsing through Pinterest in my spare time looking for more Granny square ideas. I was totally inspired by this blanket . . . from My Sister’s Knitter blog. I’m totally in love with the greys and whites and decided I NEEDED a blanket just like this.

 

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So I went to my second favourite site (apart from Pinterest) Drops Designs on Garn Studio. They have some amazing patterns (mum’s blanket is from there). I trawled through so many patterns that might do the trick and settled on making a mono-chromatic square from here to see what I thought.

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This is my result. I think I’ll need to make some more squares in varying shades of grey (don’t you love having a yarn stash?) before I make a decision. I’ll also need to find some different square designs too. So if you know of some I’d really appreciate links etc. I was toying with the idea of making this as a 500th post give-away. Again, any thoughts? So, it’s off to keep beavering away . . . no rest for the wicked my mother would say. Catch up soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A New Square Pattern

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I’ve been wracking my brains about what to do for a cushion for Kayley’s birthday bedroom makeover and finally the inspiration took hold.

Fair warning, however, it was a bit confusing writing the pattern so I hope, should you chose to try it, you won’t find it too confusing to follow.

Here goes:

 

Using colour A, Ch 6, join with sl st to make ring.
Rnd 1: [Ch 1, sc, ch 3] 7 times. Join with sl st into first sc (8 ch 3 spaces).

Rnd 2: slip into first 3 ch space. [sc, hdc, 2 dc, hdc, sc] in each ch 3 space. Join with sl st into first sc.DSCF2341

Rnd 3: Chain 4, sl st into the two stitches behind petals (as shown) around. Join with slip stitch into first 4 ch space. (8 ch 4 spaces)

Rnd 4: Ch 1, [sc, hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc] in each chain 4 space. Join with sl st into first sc.

Rnd 5: As round 3.

Rnd 6: ch 1, [sc, hdc, dc, 2 tr, dc, hdc, sc] into each chain 4 space. Join with sl st into first sc. Fasten off.

Rnd 7: Join colour B between petals at back of flower (as pictured above). ch 4, sl st into same place as joining. *ch 4, sl st between and behind next two petals. Ch 4, sl st between and behind next two petals. Ch 4, sl st into same space. Repeat * around. Join with sl st into starting space.

Rnd 8: sl st into first 4ch corner space. Ch 3, 2 dc cluster (ie. make 1 dc but only pull yarn through first two loops of stitch, make another dc, pulling yarn through first two loops then pull yarn through remaining three loops on hook). Ch 2, 2 dc cluster in same corner space, ch 3, sl st into corner space. *5 sc in next two chain 4 spaces, slip into next 4 ch corner. Chain 3, 2 dc cluster, chain 2, 2 dc cluster, chain 3, slip into same corner space. Repeat * around. Join with sl st into start sl st. Fasten off.

Rnd 9: Join Colour C into any corner. Ch 1, sc, [Chain 4, *skip four sc, dc in next. Chain 4, sc into corner 2 ch space, ch 3, sc into same space. Ch 4] 3 times. Sc into starting corner, hdc into starting sc.

Rnd 10: Ch 3, 2dc into corner space. [Dc into each dc, 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc in corner] 3 times. Dc in each dc across, 3 dc in corner, hdc into top of starting ch 3.

Rnd 11: As Round 10. Fasten off.

Materials Used: Thoroughbred 4ply acrylic yarns: Hot Pink (A), Green (b), White (c). 4.5mm crochet hook. Darning Needle.

I’m quite certain that there’s bound to be some complete confusion with this pattern so, as always I’d appreciate any feedback on how you find the pattern and any suggestions to how it might be more user friendly.

Now Rogan and I are off to have junk for dinner as it’s just the two of us home for the first time in six weeks. What a lovely afternoon we two have had!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The things you can achieve . . .

When there's no telly in the house. We've had a lovely day. The children have managed to find all sorts of things to amuse themselves, even if it's meant getting the vacuum cleaner out at least once. And I've had a lovely time getting to the almost half way point on my mum's birthday gift.

I can't tell you how much I'm loving this. There is still a long way to go and probably some points of getting frustrated, but I just know that this will knock her socks off and put an end to the quiet mumbling I hear about all the lovely things I make for other people and not for her.

And, with a quieter day it's given me some headspace to think about how I can spoil my eldest little darling after what has been a difficult few weeks for the both of us. I have a cunning plan for her birthday in March.

She's almost nine and I think she might be a little old for the fairies and butterflies that currently decorate her room so I'm planning on a bit of a makeover so that when she comes home from school on her birthday she'll come home to a "tweeny" room instead of something I put together for a six year old. Some involves sewing, some crochet and most of it involves lots of love. I think that's why I'm so enthused about mum's blanket because I'm eager to get it finished so I can start on all the treasures for Kayley. I'll keep you updated as things progress.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Ultimate in Child Discipline

To say that this school holidays has been difficult would be a massive understatement. I've struggled from the day school broke up. Last night I warned the children that, should more fights break out over the television, I'd pull the plug, turn it around and that would be the end of any telly for the rest of the holidays.

By 8.30 there were two children screaming at each other, a bowl of cereal face down on the floor and me, pulling the plug, turning the set around and putting the remotes away. Amazingly I didn't lose my temper despite being bombarded with begging and cowering and today has been a far more pleasant day than I can remember in a long while.

My friends are concerned that I'm disciplining myself as well as the children; however, I rarely watch television so it's no skin off my nose. I'm hoping this might be a turning point for the last few weeks of summer hols. I'll let you know!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My poor addled brain

I don’t quite know what’s wrong with me today but I just can’t turn my mind to anything for more than five minutes. I’ve started and/or worked on that many projects I am astounded. (I think raising children during summer holidays may be playing it’s part.)

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This morning I tried to amuse the girls and we taught Janae to make these lovely cut out paper things . . . don’t know their right name.

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Then I put the tent up in a bid to keep them amused and sat down to work on my latest dream big project that I’m not willing to share in detail until I know if it’s worked or not.

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I couldn’t focus on that so I started on something I discovered while on holiday. This didn’t last long as the girls were fighting again by then. Thankfully this was also about the time my mum came to rescue me and took them home for lunch. (Rogan spent the day out and about with Granddad.)

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I then decided that I’d start on some knitted lace that I also found on holiday. After casting on 138 tiny stitches and working through my first row (talking the instructions aloud so I didn’t mess up) I found that somehow I’ve read the pattern wrong and didn’t have the heart to cast on 138 stitches all over again. Maybe that will wait for tomorrow.

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Finally I dug around for some green yarn and started this. I did the ripple first, but true to form today I didn’t stick at that for long as I didn’t like it. Then, while the children were swimming, I started the squares, which I’m loving and which go well with the ripple, but now the ripple isn’t going to be wide enough so I’ll have to do that again.

So the summer light is waning, it’s cooling down and there’s the most beautiful sunset outdoors so I’m off to catch the last of the light with a cold drink, my greens and my crochet hook and hope that tomorrow may be a more stable “mind” day. We’ll just have to see.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Great Time Had by All

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I can’t believe it’s all over so soon. It’s been a busy day with lawn mowing, washing and heading down to the beach for a very quick play before we decided it was way too hot and came home again. But we are still talking about the fun things we did while on holiday.

This is the Cape Egmont Lighthouse that just went out of use in 2000. Now it’s attached to the little local boat club and restaurant. We dined here on our last night in South Taranaki.

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Much of the weather was wet and blustery but that’s all good. It’s kind of what you expect when you head to the “Naki” as the locals call it. This is looking out over the heads towards Australia.

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There was also fun for the children while they waited for their dinner. I’m almost ashamed at what a little poser Janae is turning out to be. Still, it was fun.

 

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And I found this beautiful book while staying with Donald and Julie. I’ve read most of it but didn’t have time to finish it. I wonder if I’ll find a copy in the library. It’s so old, that I’m sure it went out of print decades ago. Look at what was inside the front cover . . .

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How cool is this. The book was awarded to our host’s mother way back in 1925 when she was about 12. I wonder if she read it with as much relish as I did. Well, if I don’t find it in the library at least I know it will still be there the next time we visit.

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And due to all the terrible weather I managed to get this finished. Right now it’s laying, damp upon the floor being blocked so it’ll look way better than this when I hand it over on Tuesday. And, even better, while I was making this I was helping Julie rediscover the love of crochet. I’m hoping she keeps up with it now that we’ve gone as she was getting so much joy out of it.

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And true to holiday form the sun came out on our way home. We had the immense pleasure of stopping off to see my cousin David and his partner Moira at their new venture. The Waiau Estate is a tiny little winery and cafe that they are turning into wedding venue extraordinaire. If you happen to be passing through Urenui on your way South please stop in. They have the best coffee I’ve tasted for a very long time, and the yummiest treats too.

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They were setting up for a wedding while we were there. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get married here? I think I’ll be stopping by to see them every time I’m driving past.

So I think it’s safe to say we had a fabulous time. It was lovely to have my Dad come along with us and see how much joy he got out of taking Kayley target shooting and exploring over the farm. I’m looking forward to see what adventures we can discover next summer now.

And I’m working on a little project I dreamt up while I was too awake to dream properly last night. Hopefully I’ll be able to show it to you by the end of the week . . . assuming it all goes to plan that is.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's on your bedside table?

I know I've already posted today, but this is probably the last chance I have to share a couple of things before we head off on holiday early Saturday morning. The house is quietly full of sleeping children, I've escaped the dark and the biting bugs outdoors where I've been crocheting away the last of the day and I just wanted to do this before I settled down for the night.

I was given some book vouchers for Christmas and these usually freak me out because there are just so many books out there that I want and can't choose between them. This time, however, there was no competition. I put my vouchers towards Julie Goodwin's latest book. I've spent the afternoon taking quick flicks through when I've had a moment but tonight it's beside my bed waiting for a proper peruse.

Beside my bed I also have a Ken Follett novel that was given to me (another pass-it-along book). I've never read one of his before but am quite enjoying it. I quite love books of intrigue and mystery (I have been known to secret a Miss Marple in my handbang from time to time). And beneath that is my trusty old student Bible. It's way easier to read than the fancy pants New King James that I have, leather bound, red and glorious. There's a story to why I even have one but that's for another time. So that's my current bedside collection. What treasures do you have beside your bed?

I also wanted to share an update on the baby blanket I've been commissioned to make. Now you must accept the fact that it's currently higidly-pigidly as it's very much in the process of conception and will look far better on completion (I'm hoping), but I wanted to share a couple of little things I do when making a granny square that apparently aren't necessarily common and they make life way easier.

1. Unless I'm putting a whole lot of stitches into a starting ring, I don't even bother making a ring. To make this flower I chained 7 which is equal to a double crochet and 2 chain. Then make a double crochet into the first chain stitch make (ie 7 chains away from the hook), chain 2 and do this six times. Chain 2 and slip stitch into the 3rd chain of starting chain 7. Slip stitch into the first 2 chain space, chain 1 and make 1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc and repeat these stitches in all eight 2 chain spaces ending with a slip stitch into the first single crochet and fastening off. The centre of the flower is tiny and so much neater than a big hole in the middle of a flower.

2. I always start and finish my squares at a corner and there's a truly simple way to do this.

Let's assume you're making a granny square without a flower:

Ch 4, 2 dc into the 4th chain from the hook. [Chain 2, 3 dc into the same chain as previous shell] 3 times, you will have three corners and one loan shell.
Now the next part depends on how many chains you put into your previous corners. Because I've specified 2 chain the last corner (joining where you originally started) is a hdc (half double crochet) into the 3 chain of starting chain 4. If you had 3 chain in the corners then you would make a double crochet and 1 chain would be a single crochet and so on.

To start the next round, chain 3 and 2 double crochet around the hdc you've just made to finish the previous round.

I prefer to make my granny squares this way because it means than I don't end up with a kink one side of the square when I fasten off. It's neater and less fuss.

If you haven't used either of these methods, try them out. You may find you'll never go back.

Well, that's all from me for now. Hopefully I'll be able to share a beautiful and complete baby blanket when I return from our holiday (one of the key reasons I'm dragging my mum and dad along is so that they can amuse the children while I work . . . no not really, but it'll sure help). There will be the usual plethora of holiday snaps to go through and share one or two of. I wish you all the best until we meet again.

xx