She cooks, she crochets….

So often, patterns for crochet accessories are frumpy and/or downright unnecessary – but two patterns I’ve come across thie weekend have been so beautiful and timely that I’ve just had to make them.  I’ve set my chunky Sarah Dallas jacket to one side in favour of crochet collars and necklaces. Above is my crochet collar in progress. This pattern is from www.lululoves.co.uk – a beautiful blog, with gorgeous pictures of Emma’s crochet makes, as well as other aspects of her life in Wiltshire. This collar is just lovely to make: it curves really nicely, and seems pretty easy, too – and quick! My only disappointment is my own wool: because I was so keen to start it, I rather ignored Emma’s yarn advice on the blog…so although the colour of this is lovely (I wanted a tea-stained, vintage-y colour), the cheapy DK is making the whole thing rather bulky. Still, now I know it works up so nicely, I can buy some proper 4-ply cotton.
My second crochet effort at the moment is a necklace, designed by Carol Meldrum at www.beatknit.com. You can find this pattern at www.themakingspot.com. This is made with a teency hook – 2mm – so I am practising it with a rather girly pink to see if it works. The cotton is Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton 4 ply. It’s got quite a nice texture but splits *really* easily so I’m having to undo stitches every so often as I haven’t managed to hook every strand through each time. I’ve added, here, 12 more chains to the original number . . .  will report more on my amendments when it’s done!
What else have I done recently? Oh: read Alison Bechdel’s fabulous graphic memoir about her mother and her own childhood, Are You My Mother? I’ve written a review of this, so more to come.
 And, finally:
I bought Peyton & Byrne’s British Baking a few weeks ago, and made the blueberry and hazelnut crumble recipe from it yesterday, as British blueberries are on sale at the moment. This was just delicious – like eating warm blueberry jam . . .
Anyway: it’s Stitch n Bitch tonight, so better sort out my knitting bag. 

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Wednesday’s #WIP, Graffiti Knitting & More Adventures in Haberdashery

So, here is my current #WIP: a jacket, for me. It’s a Sarah Dallas moss stitch jacket from Rowan’s Scottish Inspirations, using lovely Debbie Bliss Glen  wool I picked up in the Cafe Knit sale. It’s beautiful wool; I’m just hoping it knits up like the pattern as I was too lazy to knit a tension square . . . am I the only one?! I am rather too near the sea in North Norfolk in this picture – I had to shift back a bit a few moments after I took this. I’m rather pleased with my cheapy jelly shoes, too!
Norwich  library has a fantastic selection of knitting and crochet books – and look what some knitters have done to the section!
This probably isn’t technically yarn-bombing, actually, as it’s to advertise a new Knit and Natter group they’re starting up there – but it looks great.
No trip to Norwich is complete without a rummage in the haberdashery department of Jarrolds, and here is one of my mug huggers en route:
They have some gorgeous VV Rouleaux ribbon on sale which i’m rather regretting not having bought: lace plus velvet . . .  hm, maybe I can give them a ring. . . .  😉  I did manage to buy some red “Live…Love…Laugh” ribbon and a Rico Aran pattern – they had lots of lovely things.
I wonder if I can take a break from the jacket – much as I love it – to have a go at the crochet necklace and collar I’ve Tweeted about . . .  they’re beautiful and there are so few crochet things I actually *know* I will use….

Wednesday’s #WIP : mice!

Today’s Wednesday Work In Progress (or WIP): mice for my sister’s children. She and I used to love the Jill Barklem Brambly Hedge books when we were little, and I’m pleased that her children love them too. Her eldest has been asking for a toy mouse, so a little trawl of Ravelry ensued. This is a brilliant pattern, free to download, from Janet McMahon’s blog, called Fair Isle Mice. You can find the blog here: www.yellowpinkandsparkly.blogspot.co.uk .  I made the Fair Isle a bit simpler, knitting just two rows in alternate main colour and contrast colour stitches. I was a bit worried, half way through, that they looked rather sluggy, but I think the coloured tails and eyes have changed that!
I also learnt how to do i-cord! How have I not known how to do this before? She suggests making the tails by twisting a long length of the main colour, but I wanted coloured tails. It’s also quite hard to do the twisty thing hard enough without another pair of hands, and I wanted to get on with them. So I had a quick look in Debbie Stoller’s Stitch’n Bitch book, and the i-cord instructions are in there on page 87. If you end up doing this pattern but want a contrasting tail (doesn’t everyone?!), then use 3.75mm double-pointed needles and use 4 stitches. I did about 30 rows and, on the penultimate row, tapered the tail a bit by knitting two together twice, then the remaining two stitches together.
I managed to listen to a fair few episodes of the excellent Caithness Craft Collective‘s knitting podcasts while making these: Louise Hunt has a really engaging way of talking about her crafting as well as her whisky-drinking  – while describing the scenery of her part of Scotland beautifully too. Her knitting book reviews sound really good, too. Find her here: http://caithnesscraftcollective.podbean.com/
 I got the recommendation for these programmes from Sadie’s blog: http://ravelledsleeve.wordpress.com/ – there are other suggestions on there, too, but I haven’t got round to those yet.
Anyway: one more mouse to go!

Hooray! One Completed Knitting Project: My Jumper!

If you have seen me on Ravelry celebrating this already, then I apologise! I am, though, really pleased with this, my most recent knitting project – it’s not often I can tout an FO, even if it’s not Friday. Knitted in Sirdar Click Chunky, this was really quick and not too pricey. The back and sleeve are plain, so there’s just enough pattern to keep your interest along the front. The original pattern was designed for Sirdar’s Connemara Chunky, which is variegated and not really my kind of thing. I thought I’d jolly up the useful grey with the red which I had left over from a Wibbling Wools sale last year. The Lady Friend pointed out that this looks, basically, like a kid’s jumper – but hey, that’s part of its appeal. It looks like you could wear it on the beach, going for a walk, or sitting outside a country pub drinking real ale in the evening. . . .  Perfect.

Yes, I Can Make a Blog Post out of a Keep Cup and a Wool Shop

I am childishly pleased with my day so far. This picture shows my hugely exciting, er, travel cup. I popped to our lovely independent cafe, The Coffee House, on Moreton Hall, today. They have a table full of these great reusable cups for sale. Now, I suppose it has been flown in from Australia, but … it is usable by baristas in coffee shops, so I am smugly saving that ugly takeaway packaging each time I use it. It can go in the dishwasher at home, too. What’s more – every time someone uses one in The Coffee House, you get 10% off your drink! Phew! Can it get any more necessary to have one of these? Mind you, it got mildly embarrassing as the lovely cafe ladies said you can choose the colour of each component…so I swapped lids….bodies….lids…cap bits an alarming number of times. The creation above, then, is truly unique. I need to get out more. Actually – I see a window of opportunity for a knitted Keep Cup hugger . . .
Now – moving swiftly on – for a recent trip to Oxford’s new(ish) haberdashery shop, Darn It & Stitch. I was just wondering where, down all the narrow streets off the High this was, when I saw this bicycle on St Aldate’s. I see from their blog that the Darn-It-&-Stitchers have been yarnbombing Oxford in the last week or so, and this bike seat cover is available via them on Ravelry!
Anyway:
This is the outside of the shop. It is slightly misty somehow because it was boiling hot and I’m not sure my BlackBerry enjoyed such a lot of light. Inside, the shop is laid out like the bread and fruit are at a deli –
It’s a great informal layout, and somehow the boxes encourage you to, er, pinch the wool. The ribbons and other ‘notions’ are all good, too, and I bought myself some completely unnecessary but lovely ribbon, which I’m sure I will need for something, soon:
They run classes, too, called Pinworks, from their upstairs room: find out more at www.darnitandstitch.com. The woman at the till was lovely, too, and the shop is, I bet, a great addition to Oxford’s shops. I’ll have to plan another trip…
Ah – coffee and wool. What more could you want on a drizzly Monday?