Signs of Spring

Today I allowed myself a little time in the garden, inspite of it being very cold, to take a few photographs and sprinkle eggshells round vulnerable plants to keep off the slugs.

Luckily I have a good view on the garden so I have been able to keep in touch with what has been growing, even if I have stayed indoors.

I am pleased to see that the snowdrops are still holding on and happy to see that the daffodils are finally here. There is also one lonely crocus. back over the other side, near the snowdrops, my Lenten Roses are giving a great show. Well it is Lent!You can see the remains of the Christmas roses at the front.

I am a great admirer of Leanne Cole and especially like her macro photographs of flowers, as that is something I enjoy experimenting with.

Recently she wrote an article suggesting how to edit macro photos using Lightroom – http://leannecole.com.au/5-tips-for-macro-photography-using-lightroom/

Now I don’t have ‘Lightroom’ but I was able to apply some of her ideas to the photograph of the crocus and produced this – What do you think?

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Starting the cables!

Following on from last week’s post I decided to start working on the cabled cushion cover.

First I made a sample swatch. SampleFor the first part I cast on 20 stitches to check the tension. As usual, I discovered that I knit to the right tension using the needle size recommended.

I then worked a few rows of the simple braid, to check I could do it.

Then I cast on an extra four stitches at each end to give 28 stitches so I could practice the more complicated part of the pattern which is charted over 24 stitches. (Two stocking stitches added at each end).

I was fine until about row 6/7 when I found I made mistakes and dropped a couple of stitches. (Not helped by using a too short (for me) cable needle so the stitches kept slipping off!)

Eventually I got this bit correct (or almost) after undoing a couple of rows twice!

This exercise was actually very useful as by the end I was beginning to understand the charts and to realise that the surface was either stocking stitch or reverse stocking stitch so if the stitches I needed for the next cable bit looked wrong it probably meant I wasn’t where I thought I was!

corrected one repeat
Replacement photograph!

Thus I found that I have managed to knit the first sixteen rows of the main chart, which is the repeat, and it looks okay and wasn’t as hard as I thought! I might even be able to do it in company! (I found my longer cable needles, though I seem to have mislaid the thicker one half way through!)

One repeat of cable patternHaving written the above and knitted another couple of rows I realised that I had made a mistake on the left-hand simple braid and so I had to undo a few rows. the mistake had been on row 14 of a 16 repeat so more undoing than I would have liked! You can see the mistake if you click on the thumbnail on the left!!

I  think I need about five more of the above for the full cover.

Interestingly, I am finding that my reduced energy levels and emphasis on looking after myself means that instead of the normal sense of pressure to knit or crochet all evening so as to complete the latest project and get onto the next one and thus have something for the blog, I am sometimes actually watching TV with no knitting and just pick it up when I feel in the mood. In fact I am probably watching more TV without knitting than with. I think I like this more relaxed approach.

Just a bit of a catch up

Started into the chemo last week. I found the most tiring aspect was not, as yet, a side effect but having to make sure that I did not encounter cold: objects, food, drink or air. At least this only applies for the first few days so should wear off soon! However having to boil a kettle every time you want a drink, even just to take a few pills (and there have been lots of pills!) is a bit if a pain and gets wearing.

All this has made me think more of just resting in between, not even done much sock knitting (except when hospital appointment was delayed by an hour and a half!)

Also my daughter came to stay for a couple nights and we had a lovely day on Saturday, visiting the Sea City Museum in the morning, then going to a Greek restaurant for a late lunch followed by home by teatime for a restful evening.

I did think however that I could share with you the next knitting project on my list that I am a little afraid to start in case a make a mess of it.

If you remember this recent crochet that I was going to use as a cushion cover. cushion coverWell the big question was what to do for the other side.

In the end I thought of this cardigan cardiganThat was meant to wear over summer t-shirts but makes my arms itch. Now I have quite a lot of  wool over which is obviously not very suitable for clothing and decided that maybe I could use the wool for the reverse of the cushion and knit a Celtic style cable square. This would give me an opportunity to learn more about cable knitting as so far my only attempt was the collar of this jumper. 

I found a pattern for a celtic style pattern I liked but the chart looks a bit daunting! chartThere is also all the swatching and counting to get the piece the right size. But maybe I might start it soon, with socks for when I go out and this at home.

Update with flowers and bread!

I still haven’t felt inspired to do any more than work on my sock(s). Though I have got beyond the heel now! sock latest

I would have got a bit further but when I had got about this far I realised that I had dropped a stitch a couple of rows after finishing the heel and the only safe way to sort the problem was to undo back to that point stitch by stitch!

Not much to show, so I thought I would share a few more of the highlights of my week with you.

Now a few weeks ago when my daughter came down she brought me a bunch of flowers. At the time I was still pretty weary and my granddaughter kindly put them in a vase for me. The flowers lasted well and when they were all gone I rather fancied buying some more but I have been shopping with a back pack lately and flowers would suffer in a back pack.

But then on Tuesday my brother came to visit me and brought lots of flowers! This time I felt up to arranging them myself, not that I have any special skill at this, but they looked so lovely in the vases that I decided to take some photographs.

I don’t have an ideal place to take photographs and by now it was the evening, so don’t expect something exceptional.

First I took some pictures on the dining table.

There were enough flowers for two vases!flowersand similar flowers to the above with roses and ?. flowersThe roses are much redder than this but, as someone very colour conscious, I frequently bemoan the ability of cameras to capture colours accurately.

I then took the flowers upstairs to the study to take against a more neutral background but this was taken at ISA 800 by artificial light so I adjusted the colours a bit to restore a green tone to the walls! flowersand flowersThe flowers were much more open on Friday so I took a picture of the first vase from above. flowersThe other flowers didn’t make an attractive picture from above so I just photographed one of the roses. roseI was also making some more bread: a white loaf this time, so I photographed that. bread

My latest project.

I have finally decided what to make to get back to crafting – socks!

I chose socks because apart from the toes and heels they are just so easy, perfect for ‘Crafty Coffee’ mornings, watching TV and totally not stressful or challenging. I don’t feel up to challenging!

So what socks?

Years ago when I was wanting to make the first pair of socks for myself, I fell in love with some really soft looking sock wool called Mini Mochi and bought enough to knit two pairs of socks. Now my favourite of course was the darker rainbow one but I didn’t want to risk making a mess of knitting it up, so I used the pale rainbow one for that first pair. Now the socks are indeed the loveliest softest socks imaginable and still are, but they do lose their looks a bit when you wash them. As you can see in the above picture. (several years later).

I hand washed them at first but found that they were no worse for being tossed in the machine. (Maybe this is a comment on my hand-washing abilities!)

After this I tried out lots of different types of sock wool (again as you can see in the above picture) but was sort of saving the darker rainbow wool for when the light ones wore out.

Well they haven’t worn out but I can see that the area around the heel is getting a bit thin and I wanted something really soothing and delightful to knit so I decided that now was the time.

The wool I am using now does seem more even in thickness than the earlier ones but maybe I am just not remembering very well.

I wasn’t aiming to make matching socks so I just picked up a ball and started with the end of the yarn – a dark orange. Starting with orangeWith a short row toe this is the underside of the sock.

I am almost back to the orange! I love the way the colours change!

Christmas cooking and some bread

I thought since I had gone to the trouble of taking the photographs, I would show you my Christmas cooking for this year.

I made my normal twelve mince pies for the freezer. mince piesAnd as there was pastry and mincemeat over I made a mincemeat tart to be cooked and eaten straight away. mince tartI also made a Stollen, just one of a moderate size this year, but as I was feeling ill by the time I cooked it, I took it out of the oven and left it on the side without brushing it with melted butted and sprinkling it with icing sugar.

I left that for my son to do later. He sent me a photograph in hospital and said “I might have used too much sugar, blame bbc good food.” Stollen

However it was declared to be “Yummy” when he got round to eating some, so I was relieved as I wasn’t sure if it would be okay, having struggled with making it.

And today I made some bread.

Recently on “The Chase” there was a question about the “Chorleywood Process”. Being interested since it is a station on the way to Aylesbury, where my daughter lives, if you come from London. I looked up the details and found a description of the change in the breadmaking process that started in 1961 and is now the method used for most commercially prepared bread. I decided that accounted for the fact that I really find it hard to stomach shop bread.

Hence I decided not to buy some bread but make a loaf of wholemeal ‘Artisan’ bread, as I had before, though this time I just left the shaped loaf for thirty minutes while the pot heated up and it came out fine.  bread

Looking back on 2017

Not having started any more knitting and crochet as I am not sure what to choose, I thought that I would share what I made in 2017.

This was very much the year of Celtic crochet.
I started by devising some plaitwork bookmarks and published the best pattern. I also then made some Celtic cross bookmarks, though this time I included all versions in the pattern.

Later I moved on to seeing if I could design a hot pad and made two: one with extra chunky cotton from my original coaster pattern and one in chunky cotton to a new design. I also worked out how to make a larger version of my coaster pattern to create a table mat to match a coaster and later used this idea to create the cushion cover you can see.

I devised some new Celtic coasters and a modified version of these will be published when I am feeling up to  it.

Of course I also crocheted some other things. The teddy was from someone else’s pattern (and I also used patterns I found to make a pot holder and fold up shopping bag – not shown).

I made a pattern for a spray of orchids to put on the kitchen windowsill and I didn’t think the pattern was good enough to publish but they give me a lot of pleasure.

I did share a pattern and tutorial for a ‘beginner coaster’. The first free one for a while.

I also published an angel pattern and my ‘real snowflakes’ pattern. The multi-coloured angel was made from my angel bookmark pattern but in #20 cotton instead of #10.

The blanket used my ‘sea and sand’ colours and introduced a symmetrical version of my granny ripple pattern that I called ‘smooth granny ripple’.

Towards the end of the year I devised a new cup cosy for my breakfast mug and a new larger dishcloth.

As always I did some knitting but not as much as my crochet.

The Womble was a Christmas present for 2016. The socks on the right plus the blue hat and the cowl and hat were all given to my eldest daughter. The other socks were for my granddaughter and the two plum coloured hats for seamen.

One of the first things I finished was my 2016 ‘temperature scarf’ and it has proved to be very warm and I love the extra length.

The only other thing I made was to try to see if I could create some ‘planned pooling’ from some yarn I had. I have now redone this in a more useful shape and when I get round to making a lining, I will share it with you.

My latest make

Unfortunately, I am feeling less well than I did last Monday but I still felt that I wanted to share what I had intended for today.

The only creative thing that I have completed since I have been ill is a pair of socks for my younger daughter’s birthday.

I had finished the first sock and was about a third through the second when I went into hospital. I thought at that point I had plenty of time to complete the pair but in the event it was a bit of a struggle to finish them off just in time to put in the post. socksThe yarn was Regia Galaxy. An interesting pattern in the colours I thought!

Where have I been

I am sure some of you will be wondering why I have not posted anything for a while as up to now I think I had manged at least one post every week.

Well, without going into too much detail, let us just say that I ended up in A&E 18th December having a fairly serious operation the next day. Not one that you can just bounce back from either, so I spent Christmas and New Year in hospital and am now back home mostly just trying to fit in some resting with essential household activities like feeding myself and washing clothes!

The feeding myself is the best bit as, although the hospital food was fairly healthy, it didn’t taste as good as home made: some things being better than others.

I got someone to bring in my most recent blanket: my sea and sand smooth ripple blanket and it was amazingly useful for wearing round my shoulders when sitting in a chair, to a little extra warmth in bed when I needed it. I actually took a photo on my phone to share. Blanket on hospital bedThe things that impressed me about the ward I was in and the NHS in general is that the hospital was very clean and shiny, the nurses were very kind and supportive, the bed was amazingly comfortable and medicine seems to have gone very high tech which is great except for when the machines decided to bleep from very little provocation.

I was also able to have my mobile phone with me which meant frequent contact with family was possible. All my children and grandchildren visited me so in fact I had visitor(s) most days.

Monthly Montage – November

Life has given me a few problems lately, so I have been spending my energies on them and not done much crafting, except a little simple knitting when in company.

However I felt that I should still create my normal Monthly Montage post.

I shared photographs for shop, walk and letter but although I took a photograph for light I did not get around to creating a post. Maybe I will share it below.Monthly montage - NovemberKnitting this month seemed to be all about hats: one for my daughter and two as Christmas presents for seamen. I crocheted a dishcloth and shared a free pattern and tutorial for what I called a “Beginner coaster”. And I slipped in a photograph of our success with an escape room.

This is my photograph for “Light” I had an archive one ready but when someone else shared similar I decided to choose this.

Photo Challenge - Light

They are the only flowers in my garden at present and are like a light in the darkness of winter!