Come on baby!

I just wrote half of this post on my iPad, and it was possibly the most frustrating thing I have ever done. And I teach Macbeth to inner city children who struggle to read modern English. Anyway. I’ve got my laptop now, so I’m trying again.

Hello! I haven’t posted for ages, again. I wish I had the energy and the motivation and something interesting to write about, but it doesn’t seem to have happened for the last couple of months. I have been crocheting though! C’s sister’s baby was due on Tuesday and still hasn’t made an appearance. I’ve been grateful for the extra few days because it’s given me a chance to put this together:

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Ahh! Want to see what’s in there? Before I show you, I thought I’d better say that it’s all Stylecraft Special DK, and I used a 4mm hook for all of it. Keeps it simple!

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First of all, this little guy. (I don’t know why he’s a guy, given that he’s so pink, but he is.) Someone in a crochet group on Facebook posted a link to the pattern on Bunny Mummy, and I started making it straight away. Actually, I was a couple of glasses of wine down when I finished, so I’m pleased it’s turned out so neat! The only change I made was to double crochet the two sides together through the back loop, which does create a ridge, but I like that, and it’s much neater than my sewing. I used fondant, apricot, lemon and spring, with white for the eyes. The beak is spice, and I’m not sure what the purple is – I’ve had it for ages. I lost the label, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Stylecraft. The buttons are from Hobbycraft about a million years ago, left over from a hot water bottle I made for my mum. Next out of the box:

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Little booties! I just can’t find the pattern for these anywhere. I only made them a couple of days ago, but I can’t remember if I was looking at the pattern on my laptop, the phone or the ipad. I will keep looking though, because it’s a very nice pattern. The wool is raspberry, and the buttons are two of about thirty little wooden teddies that I’ve finally found a use for.

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More shoes! These are from 1dogwoof, and lovely and easy to follow. I particularly liked row 4! More lovely buttons on here too – a present from C’s mum. The colours are saffron, mocha and white, and I did an extra colour change (that’s the only change I made). I really love these – the strap construction is clever and unusual, and it’s sweet how they look like proper little shoes. They don’t look very tidy in this photo; I think they need blocking, but I don’t have anything suitable to put in them to make the right shape while they dry. They’ll be fine once they’re on, though.

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Next out of the box: teeny tiny cardigan. This will fit for about three minutes after she’s born, if I’m lucky. But I really wanted to give them something they could put on her straight away, and the colours are great. They’re shrimp, apricot, cream and silver. The pattern is lost forever, I suspect – I really can’t find it anywhere. I have to start using ravelry properly to keep track of what I’ve made. If you recognise the pattern, let me know so I can give credit here! The construction was fun – I couldn’t work out how it was going to come together until I split it for the sleeves, and then it just worked.

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By contrast, this is a ridiculously huge cardigan. I do have the pattern! It’s here. I don’t know what happened here – she gives loads of different sizes, but I still managed to make a stupidly huge one. And, frustratingly, it took a really long time – because apparently I was knitting for a one year old. Div. Anyway, it’ll fit one day, and if I don’t put it in the box, I’ll lose it, so in it goes! The wool isn’t Stylecraft, and I didn’t use a 4mm hook, because it’s knitted. It’s Patons Baby Fab DK in ripple. The buttons are from the jar that C bought me from Hobbycraft. On this cardigan, again, I couldn’t work out the construction before I started, but now I want to make one for myself. Imagine how bored I’ll get doing that!

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Haha, remember when I posted, banging on about pastel green and red together? It looked lovely – in winter! But I got it out to sew the buttons on last week and it just didn’t look right for spring! Pattern is here, and I did make a couple of changes. The bodice is garter stitch, not moss stitch, because I didn’t have the patience for moss stitch. I added some eyelet holes along the chest, to match the hem. And I added a crocheted border for strength around the straps. At first, I crocheted the colour straight onto the knitted edge, and it looked really messy so I thought I’d have to leave it. But I remembered reading somewhere about how to make neater colour changes on edges, and did one row of dc in cream around the edge first, then a row of purple. Much nicer! The colours are spring and cream, and that mystery purple again. And the buttons match perfectly! I do wish I’d used white instead of cream for a crisper finish though.

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And last, but certainly not least, is this blanket! Look at all those hexagons. I love a hexie blanket, and I love these colours – pale rose, mocha, graphite, silver, cream, and parchment to join them.

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It was such hard work though. I think I made the African flowers back in January, from HeidiBears’ tutorial. But by the time I’d done twenty, I was seriously flagging. All those ends! Five rounds per flower meant two hundred ends to sew in already! So I had a rethink and came up with another plan: fill the gaps with one-colour hexagons. Phew. I hunted for other hexagon patterns and just couldn’t find anything that I liked. So… I wrote my own patterns! That was a mission. I’m going to try to write them up and do a separate post for them. I don’t think I’m up for a tutorial – I don’t take enough photos – but I’ll see what I can come up with. I made three different types – a granny hex, a solid hex and a circle hex. I ended up with 80 hexagons – 5 of each colour/shape combination. I used 79 of them in the end! Two day of joining, three days of sewing in ends (THREE! I was so, so bored. It took a serious talking-to from my mum to get me to finish it.), and one day of border later, it was done!

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I really, really love it. I’m actually really sad it give it away – is it bad to be protective over it? If I keep something I’ve made, I can make sure that ends stay sewn in, and it doesn’t get dragged around the garden. I guess that’s just part of giving a gift!

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I had to get a photo of all the button loveliness that’s gone into this box 🙂

All that’s left… Is for the baby to arrive! She’s got a name, she’s got a home and now she’s got a box of woolly things waiting for her. Come on, baby!

Finally finished… the two year blanket!

I’m really excited about this… It’s been two years in the making, and I honestly thought it would never be done. But… I made a blanket!
Two years ago, I moved back with my parents for a year – I had a job in Cornwall, and it made sense to save rent money for a year. But it meant packing up *everything*, and I’ve got a lot of stuff. Obviously the biggest challenge was the wool stash, because I had to face reality; I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been in denial about their stash! Anyway, I worked out that I had a lot of blues and purples, mostly acrylic dk, but not enough of anything to make a garment. Also, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time sitting around without much to do, so I decided to start making squares for a blanket. I had a vague idea that I’d try to get it done by the end of the year, but no plans apart from that. I decided to aim for 4x4in squares – tension square size.

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So, every morning before work started, I sat in the staff room knitting and fielding questions about what I was doing. I had the little 6in needles that I learnt to knit on when I was 8 or 9, and they fitted in my bag perfectly. People’s reactions to my knitting were varied – I started a few other people off on their own projects. A few women made noises about starting a craft group, though that never happened. Sometimes I’d knit while sitting with the teenagers I worked with and one in particular seemed to find it relaxing. But best of all were a few of the men I worked with. You know how, sometimes, you might be talking to a man, and his eyes aren’t on yours? It happens. But now they were watching the needles 🙂 maybe it’s a generalisation, but it seemed to be a guy thing: they wanted to know how it works. One of them even knitted two stitches himself before handing it back with a sense of achievement (!).

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Anyway, I got on with it, and they built up slowly. Obviously I ran out of the right colours pretty quickly and had to buy some more. Oh dear 🙂

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Sparkly variegated blues, left over from a triangular lacy scarf

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Cornflower blue from either my Mum’s stash or my Grannie’s, passed on to me

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Sparkly dark blue – 3 for 2 in the pound shop

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Sparkly purple from the pound shop

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And pound shop sparkly grey – I really wish I got more of these, they were really nice to knit with

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O’s hoodie leftovers

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Left over from a jumper my Mum knitted for me (I’m wearing it right now!)

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From a hot water bottle cover I made for my Mum (I think that was my first project – I sewed the buttons on crooked)

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Smoothie dk from some mittens I knitted for a friend’s Christmas present

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And this is some more Smoothie dk from the same mittens – they were stripey

At the end of the year, I had a box of squares which moved back to Cardiff with me and lived at the top of the wardrobe for a year. I hardly knitted all year – it’s been busy! Then I finished my course, and I got itchy hands. I knew I had a whole load of WIPs tucked away, and I decided to work through them one at a time before starting anything new. Then one day I found the box of squares… Ugh. Tedious squares. I knew I was on the way towards having enough for a double bed size, but there was a whole lot more to do before I actually had enough. So I laid them all out and thought… That’s enough for a nap blanket! Problem solved! I just needed a couple more, which were quick off the needles. So exciting!

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Take note of my PJs in the corner 🙂

Once they were all arranged, I stacked them up and numbered them (remember, I’m the sort of person who catalogues wool):

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This made the joining really easy – I didn’t have to keep making decisions or laying them all out again… Oh yeah. Joining. Not exciting. I took a deep breath, got some cream Marriner and dug out a crochet hook. Then looked up a YouTube video about how to crochet squares together. I think the least said about this, the better – it was really boring. I’m not good at repetition. Because I was doing a gradient in the colours, from light at the top to dark at the bottom, every time I got to a dark colour, I’d get excited because I was nearly at the end of that row 🙂

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Getting bored of the life story? Here’s the end: joining the squares was so tedious, I taught myself to crochet properly at the same time. So when it came to finishing the blanket, I knew exactly what I wanted: a narrow band of the cream double crochet and half treble to tie it all together, and then two rows of grey (that somehow got added to the stash without my noticing, totally defeating the object of using up the stash) half treble with scallops.

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It got finished this weekend, while I was still ill enough to want to stay in one place all the time. Want to see it?

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I love it. I love everything about it – wouldn’t change anything. I steamed the edges so the crochet wouldn’t curl, and I even got some new white cotton bedding so I could show it off (err, to me and C, who must be thoroughly sick of it by now) on my bed. It’s exactly the right size – just covers the top of the bed, but not too big for naps – and exactly the right weight. The most exciting thing about it is that I did every single stitch myself. (Apart from the two stitches that my friend from work did!) It wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t made it. I’m not often proud of the things I make – my skills are so much less than what I see on other blogs or Pinterest – but I am proud of this blanket. I really thought it wouldn’t get done, and wouldn’t be worth the effort and time (and sometimes the boredom), but I love it. So next time I’m bored with a project, remind me to look at this again! Want one more look?

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Cornish holiday

Hello!

This time last week, I was on the beach at Treyarnon Bay, trying not to get sunburnt (I failed). Exactly a week later, I’m on my sofa listening to the storm rolling over Cardiff. I’m just back from a sunny, fun week in Cornwall, and I feel… flat. That post-holiday feeling. So I’m going to make it worse by going through the holiday photos!

Cornwall (14)It was a lovely week of beaches, knitting and hanging out with my mum. I hadn’t been home for an hour before we were back in the car and headed for the beach – we both agree that the seaside is the only place where we don’t need any kind of entertainment. Just looking out at the sea, watching the tide come in and getting some serious barbecue envy. And counting how many boys were wearing Batman towel ponchos. Twice, kids we’d never met before came over to sit with us, to the embarrassment of their parents. One girl didn’t say a word to us, just lay down on our blanket. Hard not to laugh!

On Friday we went for a walk. I requested a short, flat walk, so we ended up clambering up and down the coast path from Fowey for hours. The plan was to go from Readymoney beach…

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Quiet at low tide

Via the cliff path, with some pretty views…

Cornwall (25) Cornwall (27)Cornwall (26) Cornwall (31)To Polridmouth, pronounced Pridmouth.

Cornwall (43)Read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier? This is *that* beach! We made a very exciting discovery here:

Cornwall (42)David Beckham, if you’re looking for your pants, they’re at Polridmouth.

Cornwall (47)Unfortunately, wherever we sat, we were surrounded by very bitey flies. We’d planned to stay here for an hour then walk back, but I couldn’t keep still (I hate being bitten, ever since the Horsefly Incident of 2012). So we decided to carry on and see how far we got before we had to give up – neither of us is very fit, and it’s a very hilly walk! Off in the distance was Gribben Head and the Daymark, but we knew that was way too hard for us.

Except…

Cornwall (67)We made it! The last bit before you get to the Daymark (like a lighthouse you can’t use at night, because there’s no light on it – pointless) is a MASSIVE hill. We seriously weren’t going to do it. Too hard. Too steep. But we did it with a lot of rests (really an embarrassing amount of rests). We were too tired to take photos, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is honestly the biggest hill I have ever walked up voluntarily. In most of the photos above, you can see it in the distance, which is quite gratifying now I’m on a sofa, not a cliff path! We had lunch, then practically skipped back to Readymoney beach. Why does it take two hours to walk there and one hour to walk back? I don’t really care, what’s important is that we had enough time to sit on the beach and have an ice cream.

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Busier at high tide with the sun out!

The hill up to the car park felt like NOTHING compared to our earlier mountaineering!

Cornwall (82)Cornwall (83)Obviously on the weekend we were ruined and couldn’t move (except to go to some wool shops…).

On Monday, we went to Charlestown. I love it there – my great-grandfather was the harbour master there (about a million years ago) so I walk around like I own the place. We were only there for half an hour in the late afternoon, but we managed to time it exactly between rain showers. The sun was so bright I had no idea what I was taking photos of.

Cornwall (95) Cornwall (105)Can you see that headland poking out into the sea? That’s Gribben Head. Squint. Can you see a red and white tower out on the end of it? OK, maybe you can’t, but trust me, it’s there – that’s where we were on Saturday! Looks like quite a nice, flat walk out along the headland, doesn’t it? We didn’t go that way. We went the hilly way.

Cornwall (117)The harbour was really busy – lots of kids jumping in the water, which scares me to death because I’m never sure how deep it is there. I love this photo; the boy in the blue t shirt, right in the middle, cracks me up.

I love going back to Cornwall. I know exactly how lucky I am to have parents who let me visit them as often as I like, and who even let me live with them last year (sorry again about that). For me, the best thing about going home is the sky, and how it speaks to the sea. Living in a city, I can never get enough sky; it’s always penned in by roofs and tall buildings and unambitious horizons. But in Cornwall, the sky goes on forever and the light is rich and pure. The light in a city is like treated water – a bit chemical and recycled. But at home, it’s like drinking from a mountain stream. I know why so many artists live in Cornwall; it seems to me that it’s the only place where you can really see what you’re doing.

Enough of that. Now, I’m very aware that these photos make it look like all I do in Cornwall is hang around at beaches, like some sort of tourist (or emmet – *spit*), but in fact, I also spend a lot of time under blankets – these two in particular.

Cornwall (129) Cornwall (120)My sister and I have had many conversations about who will get which blanket when we cart our parents off to a home and split up their stuff between us. She’s got her eye on this one:

Cornwall (130)A multi-coloured Granny stripe, knitted (aptly enough) by our Grannie. It’s massive, heavy and very warm. And it’s clearly made up of odds and ends of wool – classic stash-buster. I love the mid-row colour changes, where she clearly ran out of a certain colour. But I’m after this one:

Cornwall (126)A Granny square blanket that my mum made when she first moved to Cornwall. She told me that she remembers laying all the squares out on the floor of the house where she lodged. I hope her landlady thought she was mental, like people think when I do stuff like that.

In my last post, I set myself a deadline to knit a present for a baby by Tuesday… I did it! It’s going to get its own post, because I’m going to go on about seams and patterns and sleeves and sewing up. See you then!