What duck?

Is there anyone, I wonder, who doesn’t like ducks?

These are Indian Runner Ducks, off to work in a vineyard, where they eat the snails that would otherwise destroy the vines. There was also a story recently about someone on a plane with an emotional support duck.

Inspired by this, when I was having a bad day last week, I brought my own emotional support duck, Mr Pond (long story), to work with me.

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Despite this being just to the side of my computer, I managed to hold a five minute conversation with my manager without either of us realising there was a duck there (he didn’t notice, I forgot!). Which made me think of the Duck Man from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.

“He was accompanied by a perfectly ordinary-looking man in torn, dirty and yet expensive looking clothing, whose pleasant tenor voice was drowned out by the quaking of a duck on his head. He answered to the name of Duck Man, although he never seemed to understand why, or why he was always surrounded by people who seemed to see ducks where no ducks could be.”

Hogfather

In our house, “What duck?” (the Duck Man’s continual question) is the only response when you finally realise something that should have been obvious. It’s what you say when you spent ten minutes searching for the glasses that you are wearing, or when you find the yogurt that was in the fridge all along.

And it’s what I said when I started digging through all my craft supply boxes, trying to get them into some kind of order. Because, in my head, I never have enough quilt wadding. I always need more, and always worry when I start a project that I’m not going to have enough to finished. More must always be bought, and the scraps kept, just in case. So when I decided to set up my Craft Cave, I thought it would be useful to put like with like, and started digging through boxes for the lost scraps of wadding that I knew were out there, but somehow, hadn’t been able to see until now.

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Oh dear. What duck, indeed?

There are, of course, options. I’m going to get some batting seam tape so that I can put together some of the larger pieces to back a medium-sized quilt. Or possibly a large quilt. Maybe one for our kingsize bed.

The other thing I can do is use up the little pieces in smaller projects. There are also a couple of cushion inners that live in this box, so that’s two 12″ squares dealt with. Beyond that, I’m slightly at a loss. Any recommendations for little sewing projects that use small pieces of wadding? Having located it all, I now consider it a challenge!

Making Space

I didn’t know back in February that I was going to take an eight month blogging break, but after I wrote it, somehow, I just didn’t want to write any more. At the time, I’d been feeling disconnected from the crafting community generally, particularly since I took the decision to stop buying yarn back at the start of 2015. Much of the social activity in the woolly world comes with purchasing activity, and as someone who wasn’t buying and didn’t want to put themselves in temptation’s way, I was finding things hard going. So I think I just…stopped. Still Instagramming, but not really wanting to do anything else.

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One summer highlight was a trip to Milan. Wow!

Oddly, since then, I’ve felt much more at home in the crafting world, just as ‘someone who makes stuff’. Not that I’ve been making all that much lately, but I think about it a lot! Interacting on Twitter has been easier than listening to podcasts, and I feel like I’ve found a comfortable place on the edge, looking in. Of course, the February Stoppage came after a tough winter – the last four or five seemed to get progressively worse – and the admission that I just wasn’t coping. A couple of hospital trips, a CFS diagnosis and something of a lifestyle overhaul later, and I’m coming into this winter feeling generally better about things.

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Adding ‘walk dog regularly’ has been a definite improvement! No, he’s not mine – more on that another time.

‘Things’ clearly include this blog. I like writing, and I like talking, and it would be nice to have a space to do these things in again. Not that I’m expecting an easy winter. The darkness is already getting to me, I’m tired a lot of the time and my mood fluctuates with the weather. I’m just hoping that this year, I have a better understanding of what’s going on, what I need and as long as I don’t come down with a whopper of a cold, I’m hoping to get through with minimal hibernation.

Having said that, if I’m looking to avoid hibernation, I probably shouldn’t have built myself an underground den…

Our garage is under the flats where we live, built into the side of the hill. It’s therefore fairly well-insulated and has a cracking radiator that goes from cold to ‘let me take my jumper off’ in about 10 minutes. The garage is also huge, which is useful, as the flats are small. We don’t keep our car in ours, and thereby hung an opportunity.

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It helps that the garage also has a nice view!

One of the lifestyle changes I took this summer was to start running. There are open fields within 5 minutes of the flat, and running there just after dawn in July was a truly magical experience. But I know myself, and more to the point, I know that I hate the rain, and there is no way on earth that I would run in it. So we decided to buy a fairly cheap treadmill (thank you, eBay!), put it in the garage and run there instead. We tried it, we liked it, but it was boring staring at the wall. So I decided to set up an old computer monitor and the DVD player to watch while running. There’s also my Lightbox, so I get my half hour dose of light as well as exercise. Together with a dawn light by the bed (also eBay), it’s making my mornings manageable (not pleasant. No winter mornings are pleasant!)

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The running machine folds up, making it much easier to store.

And then. Well. Once I’d reorganised one part of the garage, it occurred to me that I could just keep going. After all, my sewing machine had lived down here all summer to save space upstairs. And here was a perfectly serviceable desk. And all my crafting supplies that I wasn’t getting through because I couldn’t get at them.

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The boxes on the right represent about 1/3 of my fabric/yarn/general craft supplies. There’s a lot to get through!

And once I realised that, I worked out that, with a little re-shuffling, the pair to our corner armchair that’s been living in a bag for three years would just about fit into the leftover gap.

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I know it’s an odd shape, but it’s great for corners!

It’s not finished yet. I still need a desk chair, some desk storage and other bits and pieces, more of which another day. But as I was setting up that space in the real world, I thought it might be time to come back my virtual space as well. I’ve still got things to blog about, and I suppose I don’t really need a better reason than that, do I?

 

Mittens, yarn and over-enthusiasm

With that over, I have to say, I am head over heels for these mittens. The pattern is <a href=”http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dappled-mitts”>Dappled Mitts</a> by Shirley MacDonald, who is just about my favourite crochet glove designer. That may sound niche, but I’ve made these, the Celtic Mittens and Fidra mitts (which were my previous favourites), each one of which has been awesome. I’ve got the Pumpkin Mitts pattern to try as well, and Harlequin looks like just the job to finish up some ends-of-balls in my leftovers tin. Suffice it to say, I think she’s an awesome designer.

My first pair of Dappled Mitts were made in my pre-Christmas Crochet fest, and were for my father in law.

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I used up some yarn left over from my mother’s cardigan, and while the slip stitching was hard to get the hang of at first, once I got to the thumb, I was already enjoying the effect. Once I’d made the thumb, I was sold.

Yes, I know it’s strange to <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BBiL3DwNC7a/?taken-by=jadesfire2808″>post a video of your thumb on Instagram</a> (as I did in a fit of wild enthusiasm), but I can’t explain to you just how happy the construction made me. I’m very much a structure person when it comes to crochet. While I’m sucked in by colours and yarns, the thing that really makes my brain spark is a clever construction or a stitch pattern that surprises me. I’ve talked before about being made happy by the elegance of crochet pattern writing, and there’s something of this here. It’s the cleverness of it that delights me, because it makes me feel clever when I make it. And who doesn’t like to feel clever?

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For my second pair, I took a deep breath and wound up my precious skein of Fyberspates Vivacious. I’ve worked with this yarn a few times now, and I absolutely love it. The variegations are beautiful, and it’s got a real spring to it. It’s just a joy to work with, but as I’m still on my strict yarn diet, I knew I had to find a really good project for it – I didn’t want to waste it when I won’t be able to buy more for ages.

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Suffice it to say that Vivacious is a perfect match for slip stitch crochet. If you’ve never done any, I recommend giving it a go, although maybe on something simpler than these mitts unless you’re a confident crocheter. You really do need to mark the stitches at the ends of rows, as they tend to twist and disappear otherwise, and gauge is crucial. I also found that the hook I used made a difference. Trying out Addi’s new Comfort hooks (a bit of a misnomer for me, but that’s another review), I found it really hard going and with my grip, I got hand-strain pretty quickly. So it was back to my trusty Etimos, with their more-but-not-too pointy tips. It made life so much easier and I rocketed through most of one glove in half a day.

But the real high point with these mittens was definitely the thumb. Both times, making it felt like magic. The construction of the mitts works with the yarn, as the small slip stitches let each colour change go on for longer than it would in regular crochet, and it has enough definition to show off the ‘lace’ panels.

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In case you couldn’t tell, I can’t recommend this pattern and this yarn highly enough. If you’re looking for something to stretch you a little without being too challenging (I had the main pattern memorised by the start of the second one), then this is perfect.

I got my copy of the pattern in Inside Crochet 48 (December 2013). It’s not available individually at the moment, but as the issue also contains the fabulous Patricia Shawl (my version here), the Ripples Shawl which is next in my queue and some fab jumpers, I think it might be worth the investment. I’m a ‘tear up the magazine and only keep what I might make’ person, and I’ve kept seven from my copy!

And if you do give it a go, let me know what you think!

Happy New Year

Sometimes, things just go wrong.

Normally I spend the time between Christmas and New Year planning, plotting and getting myself in gear for the year ahead. I know a lot of people don’t like resolutions, but I find having a fixed point in time to do things helpful. It gives me both a good run up and a deadline, both of which I generally need in order to get things done.

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This was my view for most of the last week of December.

In 2015, however, I was felled by a vicious cold immediately after Christmas, and only really started to feel well again in the third week of January. Planning, organising, sorting, list-making, everything went out of the window as I concentrated on surviving and making sure we had enough tissues in the house.

It means I’ve come into 2016 feeling rather adrift compared to normal, but it’s also given me time to think. Being a deadline person, I decided that the Lunar New Year (today!) was going to be the start of my 2016, which gave me a couple of weeks to think about what I wanted to focus on this year.

It’s fair to say that 2015 was pretty grim in many respects. It had happy times as well, but my mental health in particular – and at times my physical health as well – was pretty ropey for long stretches. While there’s nothing I can do to absolutely stop that sort of thing, I can eliminate risk factors as far as possible.

So there’s not going to be a list for 2016, or not a fixed one at least. I have things I want to do, things I’ve started to do, and things I’m stopping doing. Instead, I’m going back to an old plan of picking a word for the year as a sort of guiding principle. The word actually occurred to me back in December and stuck, so it must be the right one.

Value

It’s been hugely helpful over the last few weeks, when I find myself swamped with work or stress or responsibility, or just thinking of everything I could do, and feeling useless because I can’t do all of them. Circling back around to ‘what do I value?’ ‘what is most important to me?’ helps me get some perspective on things. And also valuing myself enough to do (or not do) things, although that one’s much harder. But I’m working on it.

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Awesome Boots that I think will turn out to be my best buy of 2016. More than I would normally spend on myself, and already paid for themselves twice over. VALUE /= CHEAP

With that in mind, I picked a memory verse for the year, which isn’t something I generally do – my church does, and I normally go with that – but with VALUE in mind, this was the first thing that came into my head and it’s stuck too.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

One of the things that you hear all the time from people who seem to get so much of a particular thing done (running, reading, tv watching, whatever), is that if something’s important to you, you make time for it. While I don’t 100% subscribe to that view, because sometimes responsibilities won’t give way to the things you really want to do, no matter how much you want them to, I think there’s something in it. If I really wanted to start getting fitter, I’d make a point of getting off the bus a stop early. If I really wanted to save up for a new iPad (really, really), I’d stop buying those things I don’t need. Etc, etc.

I hope your 2016 has started well, or that things improve for you if not. One of the things I definitely value is having this space to write and think in, and I’m starting to plan out what I want to do this year. Hopefully I’ll see you around!

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NaBloPoMo #10: the one with more mittens

It’s amazing how deadlines concentrate the mind, isn’t it? I’m a last-minute person and always will be, but even I understood that if I wanted to get presents made for Christmas, I needed to start early. But even so, I’ve sort of surprised myself at how far ahead I am.

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So that’s two of six pairs finished. Go me! (the silver one has a partner, not pictured). A third of the way there on the mitten front, another mitten done and its twin started, and on Saturday, I plan to start the sewing front. The mittens are my own pattern for the silver ones, and my favourite mitten pattern, Fidra, for the sparkly purple ones. It’s going to take a lot of self-control to give these away, I can tell you. There’s enough yarn left for my own silver pair, and I think if I do contrast cuffs, I can squeeze a pair of the Fidras out of the leftover purple. Probably. Oh, and I’ve nearly finished writing up the pattern for the silver ones, so hopefully I’ll get that up early next week. The aqua ones are a slightly adapted version of Idony mittens, as the thumb increases weren’t quite right for me.

That makes everything sound a lot busier than it actually is! There’s been something very soothing and satisfying working on so many pairs of mittens. They’re quick and easy, and you get the FO high much sooner than with my usual lace shawls. I could get used to this.

Alex in numberland

In reading, I’ve started Alex’s Adventures in Numberland. I love maths books in general, and I’ve read Alex Bellos’ writing before, so I know he’s good. The only problem I have is when authors read their own work. Half the time, it brings a whole new dimension to the work and makes a good book great. The other half, it just falls flat, because the person is a writer, not an actor. The jury’s out on this one at the moment. The complexity of the subject means that the reader has to understand quite a lot of maths, but I’m finding some of his delivery a little ‘lectury’, where I’m used to something more natural. So enjoyable, but sometimes hard to follow.

Joining up with Ginny for the Yarn Along as usual.

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NaBloPoMo #9: the one with the grumps

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As with most things, tea and the promise of crochet make things much, much better.

I feared this post might have come out a little cranky, thanks to two semi-related factors. Yesterday, I had it confirmed that I am severely deficient in Vitamin D, which explains a lot of the chronic symptoms I’ve been putting up with for the last few years – the obvious ones and the not-so-obvious. It was the kick I needed to get my eating sorted out, as I’m terrible at choosing things that will make me healthy. Treats are fine, but not if they make up most of your diet! Anyway, I’ll have to tackle the caffeine monster at some point, but for now, I’m just trying the “More fruit, less chocolate” approach and wow, I want a bar of dairy milk more than anything right now. As in, I’d swap you a skein of yarn for a piece at the moment. Ah well, hopefully if I can get over the hump of the first few days, the crazy cravings will die down, the supplements will kick in and hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll start feeling better. Not that I’m sure what that will feel like, but that’s another blog post.

It’s maybe not the best frame of mind to tackle this sort of post in, but at least you know you’re not getting a sugar-coated (heh) version of events!

I blogged last week about making my two day shawl from the ‘Your Mileage May Vary’ pattern in The Shawl Project. That was actually the third shawl I’d made from the book, and undoubtedly my most successful. The other two aren’t failures, but I’m not 100% happy with them, thanks to some yarn decisions I made when I started. Neither are disastrous, and as I’m a person who learns best from mistakes, I thought it was worth blogging them both for future reference.

The first shawl I finished from the book was the first one in the book, Never Black.

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My iPod hasn’t done a bad job of the colour, although it’s a little blue here. In real life, it’s a strong, bright purple

I chose it because it looked the most challenging, and at the time, I wanted something to stretch me a little. After auditioning three or four different yarns, none of which quite worked for the combination of large lace and dense edging, I settled on this stunningly colour of Colinette Jitterbug. It had been in my stash for ages, and after unsuccessfully trying to turn it into colourwork gloves last year, I decided it was time to make into something I’d actually wear.

The result is lovely. The yarn has great stitch definition, and the colour is perfect. The only problem is the gauge. Jitterbug is a heavy 4ply/sports weight yarn, not the 4ply recommended in the pattern. That meant that to get drape, I had to go up a few hook sizes. That meant that I didn’t have enough yarn for all the repeats, and the resulting scarf is a little on the short side. I do have more Jitterbug, in an eye-watering pink that goes wonderfully with the purple, so I’m currently pondering unravelling the last row, and adding the rest of the repeats in pink. But I’m not sure if that would just look really strange! This scarf goes well under a winter coat, as it’s not too bulky and is actually quite nice for our current mild autumn. As much as I’d get more wear from something longer, I have a feeling that pink ends would make it look rather odd.

Gauge was also my issue with my other shawl from The Shawl Project, although this time, I’m not 100% sure what went wrong. I always seem to have problems with half-circle shawls, in that the top edge is never straight. Despite blocking, there’s still a ripple to my Cherry Pi, and it doesn’t really look much like other people’s.

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I think a second problem is the yarn. This lovely bamboo/merino from The Knitting Goddess has very short runs of colour, which make it great for knitting but tricky for crochet. The runs are just a little short, and end up looking splodgy rather than interesting (at least to my eyes!). Something definitely went wrong with this shawl, as it’s incredibly open lace compared to other people’s, and while it’s okay, it’s ended up neither nowt nor summat. It’s a bit short, a bit open, and while it has amazing drape, I’m left with the feeling that the yarn and pattern just weren’t meant to go together. You can see in the picture how off my gauge was – it won’t even lie flat!

I want to try it again in something woollier that will have better density and hopefully a longer length. Not that I’ve given up on this one yet – it’s going in with my summer clothes to see if I’ll wear it next year. I actually have a sneaking suspicion that the main problem is that I don’t really get on with semi-circular shawls, in which case it will be frogged to become something I’ll actually use. Interestingly, looking at the pictures from The Crochet Project, my shawl is closer to theirs – very light and lacy. So maybe it’s just that everyone else is doing it wrong!

Neither of these shawls are failures, they just don’t quite work as intended. It happens to all of us, I’m sure, and hopefully by thinking about what went wrong, I won’t make the same mistakes next time! After all, there are new mistakes to be made all the time.

NaBloPoMo #8: the first one with the shawl

I fell a bit behind on the blogging schedule last week, thanks to managing to put my back out again, this time leaning down to put cake on a table. Cake! I ask you! Who knew it was so dangerous?

Anyway, this week, we’re going to do a bit of catching up, mostly with things that I’ve actually finished. There’s been a lot of shawls over the last couple of months, none of which I’ve managed to blog, and most of which I absolutely love.

Let’s start with the biggest and work our way down.

Way back over the summer, the lovely Louise of KnitBritish ran a Hapalong. Now, there aren’t many crochet hap patterns, and as I’m on a NO YARN BUYING kick, I couldn’t just pick a pattern and get suitable yarn. I had to work from the stash backwards, and there just wasn’t anything there that would have worked. Besides, I wanted something more like a traditional hap, with a proper centre, lace edge and border. So I did what anyone would do under those circumstances. I designed my own.

Before I go any further, no, there isn’t a pattern for this. I made it up as I went along, and a lot of my numbers totally failed to work. Do as I say, not as I do!

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This was the point at which I realised I might have taken on a bigger project than expected…

I had three precious skeins of Babylonglegs merino/silk, which is luscious and wonderful, and the colours worked perfectly together. The inspiration for the hap came from Aestlight, and I decided I would have a solid centre, a similar lace border, and a wavy edging. The centre was simple enough, and despite original plans to work top-down, doing the maths from a swatch, I quickly realised that it really didn’t matter and it was going to be much, much easier to work from the point upwards until I ran out of yarn! I worked my favourite half-trebles, increasing at each end of the row to make a fairly regular triangle, which I then blocked to make sure I got the maximum size for the edging.

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After a little experimentation, I added a black border, to give a base for the lace to work from. Ah yes, the lace. As you can see above, I did try to count out the base stitches so that I could do the maths in advance. While it looked pretty, I gave it up as a lost cause and decided to wing it!

The basic stitch pattern came from the wonderful Encyclopedia of Crochet by Donna Kooler (can’t recommend highly enough), but it was for a square, not something that needed to increase at both ends. I’d love to say that I sat and worked it out, but I absolutely and totally didn’t. I fudged it, and was rather lucky to get away with it. The point is a little uneven, but aggressive blocking solved most of the problem, and I’m delighted with the overall effect. I added a final row of open chain spaces and that gave me something to anchor the ripples on.

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The poor hap languished on the WIP pile for a while, until the numbers decided to behave themselves…

Let’s not look too hard at the ripples, shall we? It’s just as well that they’re dead easy to work, as it took me 4 or 5 goes to find an exact pattern I was happy with, and even now, the top edge of the shawl isn’t quite straight despite Extreme Blocking (seriously, I don’t think there was a pin unused in my entire house). But as you can see below, it was worth it.

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After:
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But none of that really matters. Because it is simply wonderful to wear. It’s about twice the expected size, warm, soft and immensely snuggly. Despite a few years’ experience, I still buy into crochet myths. Yes, dense crochet fabric does use more yarn than dense knitting, but not twice as much. And in lace, there isn’t much to choose between them! But I’m glad I didn’t realise how big it would get, because I would have been put off and not ended up with such a lovely, beloved shawl.

I haven’t decided yet whether it’s my favourite make of the year, but it’s definitely up there. I’m even considering writing up the pattern, although I have a feeling that’s going to take me almost as long as the shawl itself!

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NaBloPoMo #7: The one with no thinking

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Close-up of the awesome-even-if-I-say-so-myself invisible finish on the top of my mitt!

For the curious, I did manage to get the other mitt done today, so more of that later in the week. And for the even more curious, yes, there is a pattern, but you can’t see it until I correct the typos, the font, the grammar, the style and the maths. Honestly, reading it through, you’d think I’d never used a crochet hook before. Or possibly the English language…

Anyway, buoyed up by last night’s mitt-triumph, I did a proper sort out of all the things I’m going to need to make Christmas presents. We have a fairly small flat, and things need to be used or put away properly, or I start to go slightly mad with the clutter.

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The other week, I went through and wound all the balls of yarn I was going to need over the coming months. (Although I’ve since changed my mind about the sparkly green, as the pattern didn’t work. Plan B for that one…)

Last night, I gathered up the fabric as well, banished the rejected pieces to the garage, and put it all away in a single box that can sit under the table when I’m not using it.

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There’s something deeply satisfying about this, somehow. I mean, I can reach into the box and pull something out to work on, without having to think too much about it. Maybe that’s why I like making presents, especially with a deadline. There’s no decision to made, not too much thinking to do. You just pick something up and work on it until it’s done. I like that.

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The soundtrack to my making has been the podcast series 12 Byzantine Rulers, which I highly recommend, although not necessarily as an ‘all at once’ kind of listen as I’ve been doing. Things start to blur together – too many names! – but it’s a period of history I know very little about, so it’s an interesting listen. Like having an audiobook, but in bite-size chunks.

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I’m a bit late to the party today, but heading over to Ginny’s to see what everyone else has been up to.

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NaBloPoMo #6: The one with the !

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The slightly strange-coloured background is because I’ve caved and put my Nannie’s table-protector on the dining table so that I can work on it properly without scratching the wood. It’s going to be there until Christmas now.

To my slight surprise, I seem to have finished something. Okay, not a whole something, but half a something. That has to count, right? The thing is, it’s a bit of a good news/bad news sort of story.

Good news! I’ve finished something.

Bad news! It’s a mitten, so I still have the other one to make.

Good news! That’s half a Christmas present finished.

Bad news! I kind of love it and it’s for someone else.

Good news! There’s enough yarn to make 2 pairs.

Bad news! It’s from a discontinued yarn, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

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But I’m going to concentrate on the good news, which is that despite my fears, this lovely soft yarn is showing the stitch pattern beautifully, and it’s turned out just how I wanted. One mitt only takes 15g of 4ply yarn, so not only do I have lots for the second one, I should have more than enough to make a slightly larger pair for me (my recipient has rather small hands). I’m completely in love with this colour. The tiny variegations lift it from just being grey, and the sheen of the silk in the blend gives it a beautiful silvery appearance. Once I can stop making mitts for others, I’m next on the list.

So that will be about the end of January then…

I’ve dropped my link into the Making Winter bloghop over at SilverPebble. Do go along and see the other lovely projects over there. The parkin recipe alone is worth the trip.

NaBloPoMo #5: The one with the two-day shawl

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I look pretty chilled, don’t I? Oh yeah, just hanging out here in my pretty dress and shawl. No big deal. Hah! So much for ‘the camera never lies’…

It’s a bit of a cliche to say that crochet is quicker than knitting. I always add the caveat that it’s quicker once you’re a confident crocheter working on a simple pattern! Otherwise, I think beginners get put off that they’re not zooming through the rows.

On the other hand, when you know what you’re doing, crochet really is incredibly fast, as I proved last month. We’d accepted an invite to a wedding where we only knew the bride. Or rather, my husband knew the bride. I knew no one! This made choosing an outfit tricky – what do you wear when you don’t know what other people are going to be wearing? I didn’t know if it was a ‘hat’ wedding, a casual wedding, society or informal. Nothing.

Stress!

Fortunately, Oasis came through for me, as it so often does, and I found a wonderful dress on their sale rack. It was part of their collaboration with the V&A earlier in the year and, best of all, was reduced from £65 to £25! Bargain! (I have to say, Oasis have yet to let me down. Their clothes are well-made, well-cut and their sales brilliant. I’m not on commission, just a fan :))

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I’m still not sure if wearing white to a wedding is a faux pas, but I just fell too much in love with the dress to care.

But the thing that gives me real confidence is wearing things I’ve made. I wear one of my handmade shawls every day, and I decided I wanted to wear one to the wedding. There was only the slight problem that I bought the dress on Wednesday and the wedding was on Saturday. That gave me just over 48 hours to find yarn, choose a pattern, make the shawl and block it.

Simples.

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It was kind of spooky how well my two yarns matched my dress. Apparently my taste is very consistent!

The pattern is Your Mileage May Vary by Joanne Scrace (from the first Shawl Project book) and the yarn is my favourite base, merino/tencel, dyed by The Knitting Goddess. I love this yarn blend – it’s a joy to work with, the sheen is perfect and the stitch definition spot on. The original thought was for a two-skein shawl, but given the time limit and how perfectly one skein matched my dress, I scaled it back to one. I wound the yarn and started work on Wednesday night, managing more than half of the edging pieces. I carried on before work on Thursday morning, finishing the edging by 8.30. My plan had been to carry on at lunchtime but (disaster!) I managed to leave my crochet bag in the office. That meant I only had the evening to finish off, and yes, I really did stand outside my front door crocheting to the end of the row, having walked down the road with it from the bus stop.

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It was fun keeping everyone on Instagram updated with my progress, and to know I’m not the only person who stands outside their door stitching!

Luckily I’d made a double portion of dinner on Wednesday night, so I was able to just sit and stitch (and stitch and stitch) on Thursday night, rattling through the rows and only having a minor game of yarn chicken to get to the end. I soaked and blocked it while dinner was heating up, and by Friday night, it was dry and ready to wear (note: we have a dehumidifier as our flat is slightly damp. It’s wonderful for drying blocked shawls quickly!). It helped that the pattern was well-written and easy to follow, and had a clever construction. I haven’t made an ‘edging inwards’ shawl before, so was a little skeptical, but I really enjoyed the way the pattern flows. Mathematicians talk about proofs of theories being ‘elegant’, and I always find that with The Crochet Project patterns. It’s not so much about the elegance of the finished product (although that also applies), it’s about the way they’re constructed and written, a style that’s hard to describe but that just clicks with my brain in the right way, and makes it easy for me to make their designs. Of course, using Sports weight yarn and a largish hook also helped, but I doubt I could have managed if the pattern hadn’t worked so well.

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Even pre-blocking, it looked pretty good.

As it happened, I’d got it spot on with the dress code, and we had a lovely time at the wedding. I’m normally terribly anxious with groups I don’t know, but everyone was incredibly welcoming and really made us part of the family for the day. The weather was beautiful and we ended up having a fabulous morning in Poole on the Monday.

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Messy hair, but gives you a good look at the shawl.

And I proved that yes, if you really, really try, you can make a shawl in two days. Maybe I should try that more often!