Monday, 30 April 2007


My niece has bought a new knitting book called Domiknitrix (Whip your knitting into shape) by Jennifer Stafford and feel sure I would love to knit and wear this hat whilst walking the dog. Too scary do you think?

I am still slowly crocheting the black silk shawl but had a bit of a glitch and had to rip a full ball back so that kind of upset me a bit and have only just re crocheted the ball again. I went to the Cafe Nero on sunday to meet the Knitting Noras (famous as an article about us has appeared in a Knitting magazine) but only managed to crochet 3 rows in between chatting and having to go across the road to McDonalds to use the loo. Shame on you Cafe Nero only having one loo and it was out of order. Not many ladies at the club this week but I suppose the sun lured many away. I can't say much as I didn't go to the last meeting myself.

I have now got 3 grow houses and my little seeds are starting to emerge. I feel quite maternal when they poke their little heads out of the compost. My broad beans and lettuce have now been put into individual pots and are about 6" high now. I am quite a novice at all this veggie growing so it is very much trial and error and I read up a lot on the internet.

My crochet and knitting has taken a back seat as I am pottering in the garden in between walking the dog and my knit and crochet is only done in the evenings if I can stay awake! Today I need to drag my leaf hoover out of the garage and try to get rid of all the cherry tree blossom that is decorating the street like confetti making me quite unpopular with the neighbours. Hurts my back like hell but has to be done.

I am just watching Loose Women on tv and they are chatting about people getting refused operations on the NHS if they are smokers or obese. I should know as I have been refused a major back operation for the last 3yrs as my specialist says at 14st I am too heavy for him to operate. I have lost weight as I had gone up to 16st 8lbs from 11st when I first had the back problems and stopped doing anything but he is adamant no op unless I am 12.7lbs or less. Even my doctor who has tried to help me with the last stone or so says he can't see what the problem is as I do water aerobics, walk the dog twice a day, garden and keep as fit as my back pain will allow. My ex husband's step daughter has had a similar operation (different surgeon) and she weighs 19st!

I am off to walk the dog again for the second time. People said when I adopted him that the weight would fall off me but after 10 weeks I am still waiting for an ounce to drop off!

Monday, 23 April 2007

Good Weekend after the pain

I knew it would happen. The pain after the pleasure. 10 minutes of belly dancing ( see previous blog) on Wednesday lead to 4 days of severe back pain. I don't know why I think I can get away with it. I never learn.

The weekend was good. My son, daughter in law and their grand daughters came to see me on Saturday. I like to see the babies even though the baby was whinging all the time. It took my mind off my back pain having a bit of company. The dog of course was very glad to see his mum and dad again and sulked a bit once they went. He soon revived with a walk.

On Sunday my niece came to take me to Ramsbottom to the craft shop and to do a bit of shopping. We finished up in the garden centre. I bought some broad beans, lettuce and some herbs and several packets of seeds to I guess I will be busy in the next few weeks. My plastic mini greenhouse arrived from Amazon this morning (the grow house arrived on Friday) so it is now made up and housing the baby plants and is ready for the seeds. I think I should have ordered another one or two of them.

My niece brought me her crochet jumper that she had started from the Happy Hooker book. She has done very well with the body part but needs the sleeves to be a bit wider than the pattern (our family is blessed with quite chunky upper arms) so needs Auntie to improvise on them and make them wider and yet still fit the armhole! Hmm I will have to work on that one! As she is a beginner she cannot vary from the pattern as written, so any variations she can't cope with. It will all come to her with time and practise.

The picture on the blog is of a shawl I have started for my niece for her holiday abroad. It is in some black Lystwist I found in my stash in the loft. The yarn is somewhat finer than the pattern so I will have to do some improvisation to make it long enough. If I just keep increasing and do a lot more rows it should eventually get to the right length. It will be a labour of love as I think it will take me some time to finish it. I am always doing 2 or 3 garments at once. Black I can only work in daylight and I have 2 black crochet garments on the go. The cardigan seen in the last blog and now the shawl. I am also crocheting a white bolero and knitting a red mohair cardigan for myself in between.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Belly Dancing

Well it's quite a sunny day and as I was doing my housework my thoughts gravitated to happier times and my belly dancing classes. Katy at the Longfield Suite in Prestwich is a brilliant tutor ( I think it's every tuesday night @ 7.30pm but please enquire as it is some time since I last went). I used to lose myself in the music every week and as I was a would be ballet dancer in my childhood ( RADA lessons indeed- no rubbish for this girl - tutored with great patience by the wonderful Mrs Liley!) I have always loved to dance. Sadly with my back injury I had to give up the belly dance but the sun lured me into dance today. I did choose slow music and really got into the spirit. I know what this will mean. The next two days will be agony as I was shaking things that have not been shaken (and not should be in my state of health) for a long time. But what the hell we all do things we are not supposed to from time to time and pay the price later.

The crochet jacket is progressing slowly. I have only just finished one ball. I just cannot crochet black in electric light. Maybe I will do something else in the evenings. My niece wants a fine shawl but that is also in black. I can feel a couple of baby things needing to be crocheted.

"Loose women" is now on the tv. My favourite programme ( unless Carole Malone is on it Grrr). There is something about that woman that winds me up. Maybe she just likes the sound of her own voice and is breaking teeth in for someone else! Who ever thought she should be a chairperson is off their trolley. She couldn't control her own mouth never mind a panel. Linda Bellingham is on today. I think she has a fabulous personality. Colleen is also so funny. I can really identify with her. Today's programme is very funny. They are talking about stupid inventions. We have all fell foul of those. Kitchen gadgets that seem so wonderful on TV or demonstrated at exhibitions. We bring them home use them maybe once or twice and then they lurk in the back of the kitchen cupboard until that day when we have a mad purge and fling them all out. My worse gadget was a juicer that took so long to wash after use I thought sod the health benefits - pass me a carton! I just couldn't be bothered after about a week. Colleen has just modelled a lipstick stencil (the idea is you can put your lipstick on without a mirror!) and finished up with a mouth that looks like Sylvester Stallone's mother's huge pout. Funny but gross. I imagine the make up lady will be galloping across to sort her mouth out asap.

Well it's time for the dog's second walk of the day. Gosh I lead an exciting life. Watching the dog's bum twice a day as he runs around is not my idea of a really fun thing to do. I must try to get out more!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Hidden treasure from my stash

I found some treasure trove in my loft. 10 balls of Wash n wear black 4ply crepe. It just had to be crocheted. Trouble is with my failing eyesight I can only crochet it during the hours of daylight. Try as I might I can't crochet black in artificial light even wearing my special magnifying glasses. Sign of old age? Sigh! I made this pattern many years ago for my niece in white and it looked very pretty. Probably as much to do with the young (as she was then) gorgeous blonde wearer as my crocheting skills!

I may be turning into the "Good Life" minus the chickens and pigs. I was chatting today to my neighbour who is going to dispose of her elderly greenhouse (minus a few panes and clips) so if it will survive the trip up the hill from 5 houses down then I will be a greenhouse owner. Yeah! I had thought about buying a greenhouse before as opposed to a new shed but even the cheapest cost around £300 which is a lot of money for a poverty stricken pensioner (yeah I know - whinge whinge). Yesterday I ordered a plastic mini 3 tiered greenhouse from and a plastic cover for a grow bag suitable for my tomatoes. I had ordered these before the offer of the greenhouse but then again maybe the greenhouse won't survive the trip up the street! All I need now is a good Gardening book for absolute dummies. I will be happy if I can grow a few tomatoes (I shared the ones I grew last year with the slugs) and some salad stuff. I will go on to vegetables if I am a success at that. Start with easy stuff first!

The dog has grazed his leg on something sharp in the park whilst stick chasing. I heard him yelp but it doesn't seem to bad. He carried on playing with his dog friends Cassie and Max so it didn't bother him unduly.

The dog woke me up in the middle of the night. Sometimes he does that when he needs to go out for a wee but last night he jumped on the bed and was walking all over me and scratching both sides of my face. When I woke up and spoke to him he just settled down and went back to sleep. I suffer from sleep apnoea and wear a C.P.A.P machine in case I stop breathing during the night but still suffer periods of sleep paralysis or shaking fits whilst wearing the mask. I am thinking that maybe I was having one of these spasms and perhaps making a noise ( I have woken myself up many times making a strange noise and been unable to breathe or move)and the dog wanted to wake me up. It's a bit scary but I live with it. It is no use thinking each day that it might happen tonight when I am asleep otherwise I would never close my eyes. My feeling is if it's my time to go then it will happen one day. I just get on with my life day to day.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Finished at last

The long sleeved shrug (see previous blog) is finished at last. Sorry no photo as my niece came to pick up her 3 crochet jackets as I was doing the last round on the front edging so no time to take a quick pic. My jiggery pokery on the front shapings worked out fine in the end. A novice crocheter could never have done it. There were no instructions on how many double crochet to pick up for the border along the fronts or anywhere all it said was make it divisible by 3 ! Sorry but an idea of what I was aiming for along each piece would have been nice. Also no instructions to increase slightly around the bends at the bolero fronts. Had I followed the instructions, such as they were, it would have pulled rather strangely as obviously doing the outside edge of a bend gets larger the more rows it progresses.

The more crochet I have done with recent patterns the more I am convinced I should take up pattern designing once again. I do design most of my own work but as I write them down in language only I could understand I doubt if any other crocheter could follow them. Good tip is lay a jumper or cardigan that fits you perfectly on a table and crochet your new garment to match it, adapting necklines and sleeves etc to suit the style you are designing. I have even made tissue paper shapes as you would for sewing patterns and used them as templates. You need to take into account the "stretchability" of the stitch you choose for your garment as if it is a rigid stitch then you will probably need to make your garment a larger size than your sample as it won't stretch whilst you are pulling it on.

I am lucky I suppose in that I have been blessed with a good eye for doing very good copies ( sorry people if you think it infringes your copyright I do vary it on purpose from yours!) of anything I have seen in a magazine or a shop. Most of the articles for sale are so much like patterns I already have I doubt if it would be possible to say they are originals anyway. My mother had a saying "old times with vinegar on it" meaning same as she used to wear as a girl with a slight variation and they call it new fashion that they have designed! I have seen many articles for sale as "originals" when I have the exact pattern in my mother's old 1940 and 1950's patterns. The only variation being that they use thicker yarn in the more modern patterns.

My niece was over the moon with her garments. I have found some Twilleys black fine silky yarn "Lystwist" I think it was called in my stash and she has a pattern for a fine semi circular evening shawl. She will have to send me the pattern book back or scan it to me via the e mail so I can make it for her holidays. It will be light and airy. Ideal for those summer evenings abroad.

Today I am going to iron in the garden (when the sun shines I do everything I can in the garden) before braving the Sunday gardeners and council workers at the tip. I have 3 bags of tree clippings and 2 old tv's (sets - not elderly transvestites!)I know that before the car's wheels have stopped rolling some official will come and peer in the car and start barking out instructions for which bay I am to put my "greens (no plastic bags)!" as if I can't read the instructions on the wall in letters about a foot high! They bellow stuff at me like I am a dumb child. Blonde I may be but perfectly capable of reading instructions thank you.

The dog has had one walk but will be there tail wagging for another this afternoon. I am not a lover of Sunday walks as every man, woman,child pushchair and dog in the town seem to be in there and I am rather more of an solitary dog walker. We prefer the dogs we already know and socialise with as it saves on a lot of barking, growling and menacing. The hours I normally walk him there is the same network of dogs and they enjoy meeting each other. Quite a dog club and it's fun - all tail wagging and bum sniffing etc - but weekends it all changes. This morning I met a lady with 5 little yapping dogs. Who needs 5 of them? They surrounded Buster and were nipping at him. Poor soul was very upset he didn't know which way to turn to get away from them. Small dogs are rather like small men. They think they have something to prove.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Still struggling

I am still struggling to get on to the site to be able to blog. I have resorted to not using my shortcut but using Google to access the site through it's home page. Maybe this is the way forward?

I am still battling with the long sleeved shrug. Last sleeve is half done. Where oh where are the good UK crochet book designers. You don't get all these mistakes in UK patterns - well not in my 40+ years of crochet experience. I can honestly say I only ever had one UK pattern that defeated me but nearly every US pattern I have used has me scratching my head and using expletives a lady should not be heard to utter. Crochet is supposed to be relaxing not brain taxing and unravelling experiences. I have taken a photo of the original garment from the book and all I can say is after 3 attempts mine still doesn't have the same shape as theirs! Maybe the fancy border will cover all the dodgy shapings. Here's hoping.

I am looking forward to some straightforward crochet next (using a tried and trusted UK pattern) as a rest from the last 3 garments I have made. Not sure what it will be. I feel a browse through my yarn stash and pattern stash looming. That will pass many an hour I am sure.

I am still waiting to try out my new bamboo and wooden crochet hooks that I ordered from the Angel yarns site. I have had a trial with them but am not sure I like them. They are lighter but I am sure I can come to terms with but the main flaw is that they seem to snag on the yarn. The hooks don't seem to come through the yarn as cleanly as the metal and plastic hooks do. The ends seem a different shape to my original ones, not as rounded at the ends. I found that they slowed my speed down considerably with having to check that the yarn had not been split on its way through the stitch. I have spent quite a bit of money on these so am determined not to give up with them just yet but they may just finish up being re-sold on e-bay as I can't afford to hang on to things I am not going to use. Maybe I could wrap them up as a present for my novice crochet niece at Christmas. Hopefully she will forget I ordered them for myself!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

I really must get a faster pc

If anyone is actually following this blog then I must apologise for the infrequency of my blogs. The mind is willing and I do try to get on the site but eventually I get fed up of trying and refreshing and retrying to get to this page where I can actually write something. Today I managed it - yeah yeah!

A lot has happened on the crochet scene since my last blog. My niece bought a book from the Birmingham Knitting Exhibition called Total Crochet Fashions by Gayle Bunn. A US book of course (where all the good UK crochet designers?) I have managed one from it and am tangling my way through the charm school shrug which has the strangest shaping in the world and I have unripped the fronts more times than I would wish to and they still look a weird shape to me. Hopefully I can rectify some of the strange shape when I am doing the front edgings by doing a bit of treble as well as the double crochet to sort of infill the bits where the shape looks a bit dodgy. The shawl collared cardigan which I thought would cause the problems crocheted up like a dream, but I do find the US patterns are a bit short on instructions. Only the experienced could work out exactly where to put the increases on the collar, the instructions are very vague.

I have just finished the "Short and sweet" short sleeved jacket from the Happy Hooker book by Debbie Stoller and it worked out correct tension with some silk aran my niece bought but I do feel that it would look better in a DK weight and have started a sample piece just to see how I can work the size out by adding stitches etc, Now I have made one and can see how the pattern works out I am sure I can revamp it in a finer wool. I think if I was to make it for myself I would prefer the look of the finer yarn as I would be wearing it more as a summer jacket over a T shirt.

I am still coming to grips with knitting on 4 needles for the petal hat I showed the photo of in an earlier blog. I really cannot get up speed on 4 needles so feel that I will have to adapt the pattern onto 2 needles if I make any more hats from the book and do a careful seam down the back of the hats. It wouldn't be me if I made a pattern as written from start to finish! My finished articles rarely are "as written on pattern" . I suppose it's years of knitting and crochet experience. Probably many more years than the designers!

I will try to attach photos of the two finished crochet articles and hopefully I will be able to get back on to blog again another day and will give you the update on the dodgy shaping of the charm school shrug and how I have managed to make it look reasonably human being shaped.