Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Mystery revealed!

I haven't blogged for ages, and I nearly didn't tonight because I have been in bed trying to sleep off a migraine!

As well as the Dancing in the Sea blanket I have been taking part in a Mystery Craft Along at Melody's Makings. The final reveal told us that we can make our mandalas into either a bag or a pillow (cushion), and I chose to make a bag - the only thing is it would work perfectly in my living room as a cushion! I think I might have to make some more, they are quite addictive.
I began making the bright one in the first photo which is made in Marriners DK, and it seemed to have the same tension as the Rico Creative Cotton Aran used on the purple version, which didn't make sense but now I have completed one mandala it is about 1" (2.5cm) smaller, so not sure if it is big enough for a bag or if I need to add more rounds.

Here is the bag with handle shown with the fabric I purchased to line it.

I had the perfect button for the bag, bought at a show last year! Just need the toggle now and to do the lining. I was thinking of trying to do something to the strap to make it be able to be shorter or longer as required, I'm still thinking about that.

The mandalas were quite complex, stitch markers, stitch counters, writing out the pattern, much frogging, and yet they are still quite addictive!

Here are some more of the Scheepjes CAL Sea blanket squares coming along.
I like this openwork bobble pattern.

Crossed trebles were fun.

Waffles anyone?

This square has sort of defeated me,
 although I got the stitch after watching the video and frogging what I had done which was just slightly different. But the edges were going to be a nightmare to border, but then the whole thing shrank so small! I would have to go up a size or two in hook size to get the size. People say it will stretch out a lot when blocked, but I feel this pattern will naturally try and shrink back again!

 I might substitute it with this version, which is using one of the stitches and just a back loop, it seems to be behaving. If not there are a few alternatives being tossed around the closed group that I might use. The lines have a meaning to the designer of this square, and the stitch was Marinke's favourite apparently so it is a shame that it doesn't work so well in a square.

I think Kenny was redecorating with my coasters! I found this a week after he had been visiting!

Hot cocao (without milk) and next to it my new nutmeg grater which is very good! I will join in at T for Tuesday at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's place, later than I hoped to, and I didn't get round to comment last time and I apologise for that.

Sooty and I have been walking every evening, I hope he will forgive me for not going tonight, and here is a really pretty calf who wanted to see him - from a distance!
When we walk it is fast and I feel that I am pounding out my anger and sadness as my hubby gets sicker. 
The last few weeks have been so tough, we heard that the cancer was worse and had spread to the brain on the same day we heard that hubby was suitable to go for a drug trial in Oxford if he wanted to continue fighting.
Yes he wants to fight, he wants to live! So we were told he would have to have a special radiotherapy, which we now know is called Gamma Knife, to destroy the brain tumour.
Then we went to Oxford, by then hubby had been told he can no longer drive, and our friend's car broke down at the hospital. At least we got there, and came back by taxi that the AA sent (£153 on the clock when we got out so glad we weren't paying).
We were told that the brain tumour had to be dealt with before the drug trial can begin, and hubby can't get any sicker than he is.  We were also told that the MRI scan he had to have might show up extra tumours and if there were too many they wouldn't be treated and that would be the end of the trial too.
Then there was the MRI scan, then a phone call the following week to say there was only one tumour and we had a call from Bristol asking us to go in the next day. We saw the consultant and he agreed to do the procedure last Thursday. It seemed to go very well, and we were on tenterhooks expecting to get the next phone call to go back to Oxford this week, but when it came the appointment is not for two weeks. I don't know if that is to let hubby get over the procedure but two weeks is such a long time for him to wait in his condition.

The Marriners I am using for bag two.
See how much smaller it is, at least 2.5cm

Hush - look what the postie brought me! It's a self striping lace weight yarn, I didn't have any and I keep seeing lovely lace weight patterns! I will add it to the yarn mountain!
Talking of yarn mountain, I decided I should make my super chunky cardigan from Simply Crochet which will be so quick to make and will use up one of the three variations of yarn I bought to make it.
I hope to do this as well as the CALs, and I need to finish my Persian Tiles blanket and get on with Frida's Flowers!
I know - it's Summer right now and has been really hot and sunny this week, but it needs to be done. Besides it is very cool evenings! I have a lovely Summery sweater I want to make too but this should be a lot quicker to make in Super Chunky Sirdar Indie yarn. It has to be Knit Pro hooks, I only have a size 12 and 10mm in Knit Pro.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

T on Tuesday, heatwave maybe?

This evening, and here is my mug of hot chocolate - or to be more accurate - hot raw cacao with a little coconut sugar, cinnamon, ground vanilla and nutmeg. Yum. Why - well it is T for Tuesday, that day when you can blog anything you like if you include a beverage (real or crafted) somewhere along the line and if you join in at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's blog.
This week's Dancing in the Sea square is bobble hearts. Some folk are getting creative with different motifs, I did attempt dog's paw prints but gave up and I like the hearts anyway!

Kenny was here! 4 year old Kenny took about 20 photos of his Minion light with my phone, but it has my tea in it!
Lily was fascinated with my crochet, it is a wonder I got any done at all!

My own strawberries for breakfast!

It's short and sweet, I am shattered after a week of grandchildren and family staying. I know it does hubby a lot of good, but the family were shocked at how ill he looked and how tired he got when we went anywhere. He wants to do it while he still can, but he can't be anywhere for very long before he needs to go home and rest.
Tonight we went to the hospital for hubby's scan and I started another C2C blanket for a premature baby to keep busy while I waited. I started my last heart square but lost confidence that I was remembering the pattern correctly (I checked when I got home and it is right so far). I used one of my new Tulip hooks on the C2C, I love how it feels in my hand! I just hope I don't find out I am allergic to rubber!
Now Clover Armour hooks are half price at Amazon I am tempted to get a set to try against the Tulips (no - behave Cazzy!).
Once more I haven't got round and commented (apologies again) and now I am two weeks behind on that! 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

T on Tuesday, by a bad blogger!

First I want to apologise for not returning your visits and comments last time I joined in, which was two weeks ago, and I missed a week to top it off. How embarrassing, but it has been a tough couple of weeks.
The week I posted I meant to go round at the weekend at least, then Hubby was ill and in hospital on the Thursday where they decided his anaemia was worse and he needed blood transfusions, and would be staying the night - then they decided to do the transfusions all that afternoon and evening and send him home again. So he was back home that evening but feeling really fragile. He seemed better for a couple of days then started being sick again mornings, and I was trying to keep his spirits up.
Then last week Hubby had appointments at the hospital 4 out of 5 days, and I had an appointment about my foot (which is now fine) on the other day. I had to go with him to the hospital each time, in case he needed me to drop him near to the department and park the car. The day he had his transfusions I couldn't park in the drop off car park, had to drop him as near as possible and then it took me 45 minutes to park. He nearly collapsed just walking in, and they took him straight to a ward - he couldn't walk there and when I finally got in he was being taken in a wheelchair which the nurse left with me at the entrance to the ward. I couldn't push the thing, they are made of cast iron tubing and so heavy! 
We started last week with an oncology appointment, then he needed his bloods taken, then there was a treatment day. On Friday he should have been going in for a Radiotherapy appointment but on the Thursday during treatment they said he needed more blood transfusions and booked him in for those, then rang us late afternoon to say "something had gone wrong" and his cross matching blood couldn't be tested, so we had to go in as early as we could for the blood to be taken again - then it took two hours for the blood to be delivered for him! Oh what a long day, I was so tired after all that sitting about and wandering the hospital corridors for two days in row, and we were there for seven and a half hours Friday!

Anyway it is T on Tuesday time, and you can join in at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's blog. As you can see from the first photo my crochet "nest" has been drastically tidied because we have our son, daughter in law and two little grandchildren staying. It's only been moved to the craft room, which I won't be able to get into soon (and where I am posting from now so maybe I won't be able to get out).

See my Dance in the Sea storage bag is filling up nicely, we are on week 6 so 24 squares have been completed and 10 weeks to go. This is going to be a really nice sized blanket.

Because I finished the week 6 squares in the hospital I thought I should do more on the Persian Tiles blanket, I would like to finish it - or decide if I will make it bigger but only if I can still get the same dye lot in the navy which will show if it is different. In the background a pirate ship, this is my grandson's present (well the main one) for his 4th birthday which was on the 17th. Our little granddaughter Lily is 6 months old now and beginning to move, which is one reason I tidied the "nest". On the footstool the tiles are all now at the same stage, I was finishing the same two rows on the last one. Now I can move on to the next row which is a smaller hook and fills in the valleys to make the octagon, then there are just two rows left to finish. So I hope to be able to block and to start assembling the blankets soon.

I have been using two colours, so both yarn bowls are in use. Next to the new yarn bowl I blogged about last time (which is now officially part of my birthday present in advance for July) is a set of Tulip Etimo crochet hooks, which hubby has bought me in advance for my birthday.

I started to use my new hooks, I know - should wait until July, but I wanted to try them. The handle feels lovely and warm in my hand. I found that the size 5mm created a much bigger square than the Knit Pro hook, here they are side by side and you might be able to tell that the shaft of the pink Tulip hook is thicker than the Knit Pro. I tried both of them in a hook gauge took and they both fit the 5mm slot but the Tulip shaft is tight in the slot and the Knit Pro is not. As I didn't want to have to redo the gauge swatch and work out which hook I needed I carried on with the Knit Pro hooks for now but I have found since having them I often need to go up to a larger size than stated and this difference in the two hooks might explain why!
 Can you see how the non slip coating has worn away on the Knit Pro? It has on several of them, and I looked at the Knit Pro web site where it states they have a lifetime guarantee - unless you bought them from Amazon or Ebay, so I can't do a thing about it!
 Side view, you can see the different profiles.
Back view, notice that the Tulip hooks seem to be slightly longer, the handles and the shafts are a little longer.

Close up of the hook. I don't know how much difference I will find when I work with the new hooks properly but I will tell you all as soon as I know.

 Here are my strawberries, the only thing I am growing in the greenhouse this year because hubby cannot help me with carrying compost, or heavy watering cans so it is better that I don't grow any tomatoes or courgettes. The slugs and snails are more prolific this year too, so would probably eat the lot!

Look at my strawberries! They are ripening at the rate of three per day right now! The one above is the first one I picked, it was delicious.

Bit blurry but this is a huge strawberry, which my little grandson is going to have for breakfast!

 This is the Dance in the Sea week five square, it was supposed to be pale green but seagull prints looked better in the sand to me, this is the first time I have changed the colour from the pattern.

 Week 6 square is a C2C (corner to corner) square, and I did a lot of those making the premature baby blankets! They were supposed to be sand coloured and I swapped last week's colour so they are green.
 I've joined a mystery CAL, see the last post if you don't know what a CAL is! All I know is I needed Aran yarn in cotton or acrylic and the quantities, so here is a bag of lovely squishyness waiting for June 7th to find out what we are doing first! The mystery CAL is by Melody's Makings and is called Veronica meets Spring, and cost a few dollars to join. There will be some free patterns given out in addition to the mystery CAL instructions. My yarn is Rico, due to a special offer which made it very affordable - am I crazy taking on another project when I have so many not started?

I hope that I will be able to get round everyone's blogs this week, barring any excitement and if I get time. I have spent three days getting the house ready for our visitors and I am totally exhausted now and aching all over, hoping for a good nights sleep so I better go hit that sack right now as it is already gone 1am. So I am a candidate for Alzheimers due to lack of sleep, but crochet will keep my brain active so maybe they net off!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

T for Tuesday and for Two CALs

It's time for T on Tuesday, and as long as you show a beverage you can join in with the lovely people over at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's place. 
I had some really lovely comments last week, and was so late going round commenting myself, I had to keep my poorly foot elevated to try and get the infection to go away.

It was tricky to take this photo while holding a home made ice lolly, all I did was mix vanilla yogurt with raspberries!
Week four squares are all about waves, square complete and blocked.

Before the border was added, and before blocking the square was a bit lopsided.
All of week three squares blocked and ready to go in the bag - I just love this colour.

Last week Lisca asked me about the CAL and if it was a course. Well it sort of is I suppose, but let me try and explain.
CAL stands for Crochet Along, and it is an event where a person, magazine or company tells you of a project you are going to make, and the materials you need and the patterns are released a small part at a time at set intervals.
When a yarn company together with a crochet designer launch a CAL it usually means there is a kit or kits you can purchase, as I did for the Last Dance on the Beach CAL, where I purchased the Scheepjes Lux Dance in the Sea kit. The kits for this CAL are in three colour combinations, and in two qualities, Lux has the Merino Soft yarn which is 50% pure Merino wool, and the basic kit is in Colour Crafter which is acrylic.
I have taken part in mystery CALs before, I started to make a toy but didn't finish it, I will one day.

I have never taken part in a CAL like Last Dance on the Beach before, and I am enjoying it. A new pattern for the next square is released each week for a total of sixteen weeks, and you make four of each square.
As well as instructions a video is released for each square too, so beginners should be able to take part as well as more experienced people. All of it is available on the Scheepjes website, and there is a Facebook group you can join where everyone helps each other and shows their photos of finished squares.
At the end we put our squares together to make a beautiful blanket (hopefully if the squares are all the same size), and crochet a border.

The CAL was the idea of Marinke (Wink) Slump, a lovely girl who lost her battle with depression last year and the design of her blanket has been completed by her friends and fellow designers in her memory. There is a small donation to MIND for each kit sold too. On the Scheepjes site there are patterns for a couple of Wink's past CALs too.

This is Marinke's last book, published posthumously. I felt I should get it, but did I get carried away by people in the Facebook group? It is easy to do, someone comes along and join

Some people are crocheting all three colourways, some are only making one. Some are making a bigger blanket with two kits. Some are using other Scheepjes yarn, and some are using non Scheepjes yarn but are not allowed to mention the make in the group lol.

There are CALs like the Yarnutopia 365 granny squares project, where one new square is released every day and you can use your stash to make it, and pick and choose which you like, there is a video tutorial for each one not a written pattern. There are plenty of other CALs out there on the internet.

While other people are taking part in more than one CAL........
......oh dear the postie seems to have brought me more yarn from Wool Warehouse, doesn't it look pretty in the lovely net bag! I kept looking at the Frida's Flowers kit and CAL, and I gave in but I didn't buy the kit. I looked for a cheaper cotton and found Drops Muscat which is in 50g balls so is perfect to substitute for the Stylecraft Classique and saved myself £20. I tried doing it in King Cole Giza because I have a pile of that and wouldn't need all the colours (and a few other makes) - but it always worked out more expensive that the kit because I wouldn't need the whole of the 100g ball in many cases.
The Frida's Flowers CAL has a new part released every fortnight, and is not for beginners but for people who want to improve their skills. Part 4 is about to be released, so I have some catching up to do.
The Persian Tiles blanket is not a CAL, but is a spin off of the Jane Crow CAL last year which I think was called Moroccan Tiles. Once the CAL is over the pattern is withdrawn. The pattern for sale is a simplified design compared to the CAL version. I was a bit slow and didn't save the patterns or print them for the original CAL.

A while ago I posted about my Furls yarn bowl which worked out quite expensive because I got stung for import duties and the dreaded Post Office fee which is several times the tax often.
I wasn't really looking at yarn bowls, but I spotted some on Ebay,  one of two gorgeous bowls available at the time and hand carved from Yew. Isn't it beautiful, and so big! I will take a photo next to the Furls one so you can see the difference. I was really disappointed with the size when it arrived, but not this one.
This is also a work of art, so totally lovely and the price was good too (well it wasn't cheap, my treat to me). The Ebay seller isWright Turn - and the artisan who carved this masterpiece is Jon Wright who is on Facebook. The bowl was so well packed it was quite a fight to get it out and see how beautiful it is. I love all the wood grain, and how it is different on every part.

View from above, empty, isn't that pretty!
The cotton yarn is 50g, see the Furls bowl is only just big enough for one but I could have got more than the two in the Wright Turn one - or a much bigger ball of yarn! I must take a photo of the bottom of it too, that is carved with the names. 

I'm also looking at potential new hooks, my hooks are quite new and are Knit Pro Waves which were highly recommended, but I am wondering if a more shaped handle would benefit me as my poor old hands get stiff and sore after crocheting for a few hours. The set I really like the look of and the one that gets good reviews is the Tulip Etimo which comes in pink in a pink case with pink scissors. Other people recommend Clover Amour, and Addis, and some swear by Furls hand carved hooks. The Furls look gorgeous but postage the same as the cost so doubles the price, then pay taxes and fees as I have only seen them direct from Furls in the US.
Someone posted about some other hooks that are similar to Furls and a whole lot cheaper and now I have found lots of them by different designers at various prices. Some work out a lot cheaper than Furls too. I even found one in the UK who carves the handles and fits them to metal hooks.
Lots of designers seem to get hooks and equipment sent them to try and recommend, I could do that too - if anyone would like to send me stuff to review!

Here's 14 year old Alfie basking in the sun.