Thursday, 31 December 2009

Another Crocheter In The Family

Our newest family member to learn how to crochet. On Christmas Day my elder niece, who can crochet, was teaching my younger niece how to crochet. I got this photo yesterday showing her progress with her crochet so far.As both of my nieces work long hours and have so little time to either knit or crochet then crochet is the obvious thing as it can be picked up and put down so easily.

You may notice that my niece is modelling the Sedgemoor cardigan which seems to have been a hit with her.

As I cannot knit for long periods of time without getting bored then I decided last night to make some simple fingerless mitts to go with the scarf and hat. I wanted to show how simple shapes can be made into something. When you are learning a craft it is OK to practise stitches but I do think that showing how easy it is to turn a simple shape into something wearable is important. I have sewn up one pair and then tacked one of the second pair of mitts together with a different coloured thread to show the how to and left one piece flat to give her some idea of how they are constructed. I am not going to write down any instructions at this stage as she is still practising tension so hers would come out a different size anyway.

Today I am going to make some more simple shapes to show her how to make a phone case, a child's purse and a child's simple hat made in a flat piece as she isn't ready for circular crochet yet. I do hope that I can encourage her to make something simple as I think it gives a new crocheter such a sense of achievement to turn out something useful rather than just practising stitches over and over.

I bought the necklace at Marks and Spencers yesterday as I could not resist a bargain. I had to borrow a black necklace from my elder niece for my younger niece's wedding as I didn't have one so when I saw this one reduced from £9.50p to just £4 then I had to have it. Black is such a useful colour for jewelry and I do wear a lot of black when I go out anywhere.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Back To The Knitting Again

I am back to my knitting so expect very slow progress for the next week or so. As I mentioned yesterday the colour pooling on Charlie's sweater was driving me mad so yesterday I unravelled the offending bit of brown (picture one) and by knitting from 2 balls of wool every alternate row came up with version two which although has a wide green splodge is better than it was before. Some people may say I am mad or a bit knit picky but that brown splodge would have driven me mad even though Charlie is under 18 months old and will probably decorate the front of his sweater with a lot more than a splodge. I am half way up the back of the sweater now but as I have also got to make one for Finlay I may be knitting for a while.

I went up the village to do a bit of food shopping for the first time since Christmas. I needed some bread mainly. I had a treat and called in to Marks and Spencers small food outlet and got a few things to tide me over until the New Year. Their food always looks so much fresher and more appetising than the cheaper stores. I could spend a fortune in there if my purse would let me. I limited myself to a few purchases but I did buy some lovely red apples which although they work out at 50p each they are delicious.I would eat a lot more fruit if I could afford to buy tip top fruit all of the time. Supermarket apples and bananas just don't hold the same thrill for me as bunches of fresh grapes, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries and peaches. When I was working I would spend several pounds on fresh fruit every week. That is one thing that I do miss now that I am on a budget.I do have fruit in my bowl but it doesn't really tempt me to eat it. I bought some satsumas in the supermarket before Christmas and they were sour and dry and the apples were tasteless.

Not much to report except that it is raining again here in Manchester. At least when I went shopping most of the ice has now melted so I was able to walk without fear of slipping.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Fat Rant

As I am sure we have all put on a few pounds over Christmas I am sharing a You Tube video with you today. If you click on the blog title it will take you to a Fat Rant by Joy Nash. I so totally agree with what she is saying in this and her other You Tube videos. If you have the time just watch a couple of them. Any one who knows me knows that I have been struggling with a weight issue for the last 5 yrs. I had my spinal operation cancelled on me 4 times due to the fact that said I was morbidly obese. I am a size 20 now but when they said that I was a size 16, Overweight? Yes I will give you that as I can barely walk about so it is difficult to lose the excess weight but morbid? Have they seen some of the vast women in the streets and more to the point have they not noticed that they have a large amount of very overweight people working in the hospital. Hard to take weight advice from someone when their nurses and clerical staff weigh much more than I do. Put your own house in order first please and then you can tell me I am morbidly obese.

I have to go to the hospital in January and February and know that the minute I go through the door I will be criticized for my weight before they even examine me. I need a new knee but know they will say they can't operate on me at this weight. Come back when you have lost weight. Your BMI is too high. What I find amusing is that one of the specialists is less than 5 feet tall in his Cuban heel shoes and must buy his clothes at the children's department but I don't say to him why don't you grow and put on a few pounds. Is it any wonder he says he would find it difficult to operate on my knee. Jeez he must have to stand on a step to even reach the operating table. I might stand more of a chance if they employed full sized surgeons. When I had my carpal tunnel operated on privately the surgeon was a lovely burly Scot who looked like he tossed cabers in his spare time. I just wish that he did knees or I had the money to pay for an operation.

I am not defending my size. I am merely trying to point out to them - which came first. My problems or my weight. If they look back in their records I arrived at the hospital 5 yrs ago with back troubles and weighed 70 lbs less. Surely there is a clue in there somewhere. Hey this lady can't walk or exercise so she is gaining weight - not eating more just to piss us off! No they are not interested in why I am gaining weight only that I should lose it. I think if the NHS put a bit more money into helping me now before I become an obese statistic ( oh sorry according to them I already am one) instead of keep saying they can't operate on me because of my size. Round and round in a circle I go.

I am not a stupid person but yet I do have a bit of an obsessive depressive eating pattern, which has developed over the last few years, which I have explained to them on many occasions. I eat more when I am depressed and guess what makes me depressed? The fact that I am in pain and can barely walk. Hey geniuses why don't you listen to me? Giving me a diet sheet won't help at all. I know what I should be doing so just fix my body and my head will follow.

I am not hiding from the world in my photo. Just demonstrating that my nephew in law will be ready for the next bit of snow we get. I knitted him the Palindrome scarf for Christmas but it was a bit short so I have crocheted him another scarf, this time much longer, and made the Anarchy hat from the Stitch and Bitch The Happy Hooker book. I haven't made the hat as long as I don't think that he wants a hat with a brim. I will have to post it now as they have gone back to London today. Notice how the stitch changed the colour. The scarf is in UK trebles and the hat in UK double crochet.

I might pick up the sweater that I had started for Charlie before Christmas. I stopped knitting as the multi colour had pooled just under the neck on the front making it look like a huge chocolate stain. I will unpick it and try using wool from another ball for every other row to break this pooling up. I can't leave it looking like this even though I know that you can't always predict where the pooling will land when you are using random wool.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Last Of The Snow

Most of the snow has gone from near my house. My son managed to get here yesterday. Where he lives they still have compacted snow covered by ice and as their street gets very little sun then nothing is melting yet. He brought me some DVD's and heated wheat slippers (tried them and they are great) and a card made for me by my great grand daughters.

He helped me to set up my new phones. I had them charging up since Christmas Day but didn't know how to link them together once they were plugged in. He just picked them up and beeped a few buttons and hey presto they were working. Just like a man - no need of manuals or anything. I had read the manual and not made head nor tail of it!

Lots of photos today from my subscription copy of Crochet Today Jan/Feb to cover up for the fact that there has not been much in the way of knitting or crocheting done in this house. I think I crocheted and knitted myself to a standstill and am now having a break. I have started a plain crochet scarf but that's about it.

Some of the things in the magazine I would not make like the cushions, dolls and doll clothes, ring box, coasters and big love afghan. I like the earflap hat but doubt that I would ever wear the headband. The mitts are cute but as I have not yet mastered the long length of a tunisian crochet hook they are not on my list at the moment. The pale blue turtleneck is pretty and whilst I like the men's crochet socks I do find crochet socks to be a little uncomfortable in wear. I feel like I am walking on ridges. A great shame as they are so quick to make.

The baby sweater pattern will get used but I doubt if I will embroider the snowflakes.The cover sweater (see previous blog for photo of cover) is very nice but at my size stripes across the yolk are not a really good idea so I think I will give that one a miss also.

I send my congratulatulations to a fellow Knitting Nora, Sue, who became a grandma again on Christmas Day to a little girl named Freya. Sue is another snowed up lady up on the hills in Darwen. I have another friend up in Darwen and he said thank God for 4 x 4's in this weather.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Happy Christmas Everyone

Happy Christmas. I know that I am a day late with my wishes but I somehow didn't find the time to blog yesterday.

I had a great day at my brother and sister in law's house. Loads of good food and good company. I almost didn't make it there as my niece's car refused to start and she had to wait for the repair man to come and sort it out. My brother came to collect me instead.

I think that all of my presents were well received although I must confess to finishing my nephew in law's scarf off whilst I was there. It is a bit on the short side so I will make him another one and post it down later. I have seen a nice crocheted aran style scarf in one of my crochet magazines that I will use. I still have a couple more baby sweaters to make but they did get presents from me before the day and are now in Ireland on a holiday so I will finish them off before they get back home.

I got some fantastic presents, some of which I have photographed. I got a new set of phones but they are charging before I can use them. I got well received slippers ( my old ones were very shabby), an amaryllis, a cake knitting book, and egg cup and cozy, a subscription to Crochet Today and a wonderful hamper from Marks and Spencer.

The hamper had all kinds of goodies in it. Wild salmon, coffee, cheese and cracker plus chocolates, after dinner mints, pear and ginger biscuits and a mini bottle of Chablis. There was even an individual piece of iced Christmas cake which was good as I hadn't bought one. I also got a selection of toiletries. One year I asked my niece not to buy me one pot of an expensive cream but just to get me everyday items and each years since she has made up a pack of shampoo, conditioner, face creams, body lotion and E 45 etc all of which come in extremely useful. I am not an expensive toiletries kind of person and if anyone buys me things I tend not to use them for everyday which is rather stupid I know so everyday items are far more useful to me.

This is the first time that I have ever had a hamper. I have given them to other people in the past. When my father and mother in law were alive I used to make up my own hamper full of tinned things, coffee, tea and long life milk so that I knew they could put them in the larder and use if they got snowed in etc. I also used to make one up full of luxury goodies for my, then a single mum, friend who used to find it hard at Christmas to buy more than the necessities as she was not working at that time.Nowadays my circumstances have changed and I am with one without the wage so it was nice to be on the receiving end this year especially from M and S. I love their food. I always used to joke that I would know that I had made it in life if I could do all of my weekly shopping at M and S. Of course I never got there but I can still dream that one day I will win the lottery.

Today I am going to catch up on the much neglected house. I had put housework on hold whilst I finished off my presents and now it is time to wield the duster and hoover with a vengeance and work off all of the food that I consumed yesterday.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Only Two Left To Finish

I have finished the last big present. I now have a knitted scarf to finish and a gents hat to make. Whew not much if you say it fast.

This jacket is loosely based on the Doubled Up Jacket from The Crochet Closet book by Lisa Gentry. I say loosely based as once again even though the pattern said US thickness 4 (aran) the aran that I bought would not come small enough even using 2 sizes smaller hook. I didn't have time to mess about or to go and buy some double knit so I just improvised as usual. I used the pattern stitch but everything else was done by my eye.I know that I annoy people as I don't write anything down but them I was on a time schedule and I do work a lot faster without a pattern. I had added a collar to the jacket as I thought that it was more of an outdoor jacket rather than an indoor one or one to be worn underneath a coat. I had two 400 gram balls and there is probably enough to make a hat at a later stage,

I picked up the scarf knitting again last night but it is slow going compared to the crochet. I just hope that I have enough time to finish it and knit a hat before Christmas Day.

My street is still fairly impassable and so I think that I may have to walk up to the main road tomorrow to get a lift from my niece to her parents house for present swapping and Christmas dinner.

The bottom photo is one of the fairy dresses that I have bought for my great grand daughters for Christmas. I have bought them the same as they are at the age (4 and almost 3) that they argue like mad over everything and so it is easier to get them the same. There are no fairy wands but that is probably better as they would probably go around bashing the dogs on the head Christmas Day.

I hope that you all have a very Happy Christmas. I am not sure if I will have time to post tomorrow morning but I will take photos of the finished scarf and the hat if it is finished in time

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

My First Christmas Present

I received a copy of Crochet Today in the post yesterday. There was no message attached to it but the label suggested that it was one of 4. I asked everyone I knew if they had sent it to me and got denials all around. My friend suggested that there must be a Santa and he had sent it. Later in the day I contacted my niece and she said it was her Mum who had arranged the subscription as a Christmas present but they thought that as it was the Jan/Feb issue that it would not arrive until after Christmas so were going to tell me on Christmas Day.I will post some photos of the contents on another day.

Getting Crochet Today through the post reminded me that I had not renewed my subscription to Interweave Crochet and as the Winter edition is one due out very shortly I have sent off my cheque to P & M Woolcraft, My neighbour from across the road has posted it for me as I am not going up the village in the snow again.

I ventured out yesterday as my neighbour was unable to give me a lift to Tesco to food shop as she has had to work, It was really hard work dragging my trolley home through the snow and my knee and back are hating me today. Fortunately as I am not cooking for Christmas Day I wasn't over loaded as some people trolleys were. I could have called for a taxi but as the council has not seen fit to grit our hills yet I didn't think it was fair to ask a taxi to slip and slide to my house. When I first lived here we had a local council who gritted every time there was a hint of snow or ice. Now we have amalgamated in with a bigger council all we ever get is one tiny grit bin that isn't enough for a quarter of the street and have never seen a gritter in years. Our council taxes went up when we amalgamated but we get a poor man's service. Bury gets the gritters now.

I am still working like crazy. My house is like a blitz but I don't care. There is more to life than housework. I live on my own so I can please myself. I have promised myself a giant clean up once Christmas is over, I do the basics like hoovering etc but the polishing and deep cleaning has been put on hold.

I am well on the way with another jacket for my niece, It was supposed to be the jacket pictured from the Crochet Closet book but as my wool is thicker than the wool specified once again I am doing it my way. I work quicker that way. I have just used the stitch and the general pattern idea but am toying with the idea of putting a collar on my version and a few more buttons.

Yesterday I got photos sent of my niece wearing one of the duck hats that I made and the family (except the baby as I suspect that her hat is still a bit large for her) that they were intended for wearing theirs. Apparently they loved the hats and the little girl insisted that her Daddy wore the hat to take her to nursery school the next day. It's nice to get photos of people wearing things that I have made and knowing that they like them.

The scarf is still languishing with not another row done and I have still got a hat to knit. Sleep - who needs it? Mush Mush I had better get a move on.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Another Present Finished

Another present finished. This is my version of the Capricious Cardi by Marlaina Bird that was in the Inside crochet Issue 5. I couldn't get it to work out at all with the Jarol double knit that I had bought and so just made my own design up. It looks almost the same as the one in the magazine except that my version is a little shorter due to my not buying quite enough yarn. I bought 500 grams but as the wool has a high wool content I could have done with buying 600 grams.

I still haven't found the missing crochet hook but I am hoping that it turns up when I move the furniture to do a proper hoover up before Christmas. It must have rolled underneath a sofa or something.

The snow is still coming down thick and fast here and I am worrying about getting out to pick up my prescription and do some food shopping. If I don't get a lift then I will have to brave the snow and walk up tomorrow.

I must get on with some more crochet and knitting as I have no time to sit and do nothing, Mother Christmas is on overtime this year!

ETA After writing this blog I went into the front room and my missing crochet hook was in the middle of the coffee table ! Now that was definitely the first place that I looked for it. How can a hook sit on a glass coffee table for 2 days and not be seen? I tell you I have a mischievous fairy or elf living in my house somewhere.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Going Green With My Wrapping

They haven't quite turned out the way I wanted but this is my novel way of wrapping a present in a 'useful later' kind of way. I have chained two crochet squares together to form a Santa sack. For the man's present I have used a crochet chain to tie and for the lady I have pinned on a crochet flower and used a ribbon to tie. When they have opened their present and unpicked the chain holding the pieces together then hey presto they have two dishcloths each to do the washing up with later. I would have liked them to be fancier than this with perhaps crochet holly leaves and berries and red ribbons but time is against me as I have a feeling that these two gifts will be picked up today or tomorrow and I wanted them to be ready in time. I will try to make my next ones a little more festive if I get the time.

I am on the last front of the Capricious cardi and so hope to get that finished off today. I have spent an hour this morning looking for my crochet hook. I swear that I have fairies or elves in my house who hide things. I usually thread my hook into my unfinished crochet when I go to bed but when I picked my crochet up this morning the hook was no-where to be seen. I have moved the chair, looked all around the floor but the hook is still missing. I have got several hooks this size but I don't like to swap hooks mid garment as even though they are marked as the same size I do find that there is a slight variation in their sizes. I have no doubt that the hook will turn up somewhere silly very soon. I really liked that hook as it was a lightweight plastic type hook that I bought from Purplelinda. I was going to order more sizes in the same type of hook after Christmas. I had only bought two sizes to see if I liked working with them. I will just have to order another one this size if the elves don't let me have it back soon.

Today I have woken up to the aroma of cat spray in my porch again. The neighbourhood cats are so ungrateful. My porch door won't close properly and so they shelter in it when the weather is bad. I even have a cushion in there for them to sleep on so they won't be cold on the tiled floor and how do they repay me? They spray in my porch and make the hall smell dreadful. That's what I get for being a good Samaritan. I will mop it later. I find biological washing powder in my mop bucket is the best thing for neutralising the smell.I have tried the pet odour sprays and Fabreeze but they don't work as well as washing powder. It wouldn't work, of course, on carpet but is great on ceramic tiles.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Early Paper Boy

Like most people I have snow outside. This photo was taken yesterday so there is actually a bit more there now. I woke up this morning to the extra snow and a bit of a mystery. I was up at 8am and I picked up the newspaper from behind the front door. When I drew back the curtains and looked outside there was unbroken snow on my drive to my front door. Not a sign of any footprints. Either the paper boy called really early and it snowed after he called or he must have flown in and sprinkled fairy dust as one of my friends suggested.

I am still progressing with the Capricious jacket although I have had to undo the few inches that I did today. I had increased back out again for the bust line but when I got to the armholes I realised that it was going to be too wide so I have undone it back to the waist again. What have I said before. More haste less speed. I have made both sleeves as I am eking the wool out. I think that I really need another ball but I am not going to be able to get another ball before Christmas as the market will not be open until Wednesday and the wool stall may not be there because it is so near to Christmas. It is the higher percentage of wool that is giving me less yardage than I had calculated for the jacket.

I started another crochet jacket again from a US pattern and when I had done 5" I realised that it was turning out massive as well. What is it with these US patterns? My tension was correct but when I looked at the schematics the measurements for a 36" bust was 50" ! My niece is a mere size 8/10 so 36" would have been a bit loose on her but 50" was way too much even for a slacker coat style jacket. Understandably I have undone it and as per usual I have restarted it my way. Once again it will look like the pattern when I have finished but several sizes smaller than the one in the book.

The knitted scarf is still neglected. I haven't even worked an inch on that. I can't seem to drum up any enthusiasm for my knitting but I know that I will have to do so before Christmas or my nephew in law will be minus a present.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Capricious - I Don't Think So

When I got my copy of Inside Crochet Issue 5 my locally living niece saw Capricious cardi and liked it so I decided to make it for her as a surprise as she is so good with me. Taking me here and there when she can. The designer, Marlaina Bird, is from the US and whilst I am not bothered where the designer lives I do wish that they would use yarns more familiar in the UK as it is sold as a UK crochet magazine. The yarn suggested is Mirasol Nuna which is described on some web pages as DK but on others is listed as knitting to a fine gauge.

I know that I do crochet loosely so always chose a smaller hook and sometimes even a smaller size on the pattern but when I chained on using Jarol DK, which isn't a thick DK, it was huge. I persevered for a while as the pattern has shaped inserts at either sides of the hips, and is made all in one, so I thought that when I had reached the end of the insert shaping then it would be fine. I wasn't. I had to unravel it all as it would have fitted around me twice and I am not the tiniest of people. I have now started again and am using the pattern for the pattern stitch and the style but am not making the inserts over the hips.Instead I have shaped inwards by narrowing the pattern as you can see at the top of the second photo to give it some hip amd waist shape.Depending on the size I may increase back out again to give it fullness at the bustline. I have never had anything turn out so huge, I admit that my tension was slightly off so I had started making it a couple of sizes smaller than I wanted and was using a smaller hook. The pattern is done on a 4mm hook and even the smallest size starts with 258 ch so I think that a 4ply would be the nearest UK equivalent if I want to make the pattern as written in the book.

The second attempt is looking more like the size that I need for my niece but I am now going to be winging it for armhole and neck shaping and the sleeves. I have done this sort of thing before and it doesn't really worry me except when people ask me what i have done and I don't know as I do it all by eye and don't write anything down. I am always in doubt whether to put any mention of the pattern on Ravelry as I really won't be using it. I am just using the pattern stitch and the general picture but as it wil look similar to the original people may wonder why I don't link it together. I am just a bit worried that someone else in the UK will struggle to get the correct tension if I don't say anything unless they go on the Internet and buy the wool specified. I know that Inside crochet do give yarn alternatives, one of them being Fyberspates Scrumptious, but does anyone ever test the patterns for tension in UK wool when they come from a US designer? I have come to grief before with US patterns saying DK as their DK seems to be a different thickness to ours.

I plan to stay home today and crack on with my knitting and crochet. We still have a very light dusting of snow and it seems to be very cold although I haven't yet ventured outdoors.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Sedgemoor Is Finished

The Sedgemoor jacket is finally finished. Or at least it will be when it has dried from the blocking. Now that the buttons are stitched on it isn't really noticeable that I was 2 rows off with the middle buttonhole. The pattern is from a magazine called The Knitter Issue 12. I advise that you check the errata if you want to make it. I changed the sleeves to long ones. One more Christmas present finished.

I have started crocheting something else but even though my tension is correct it seems very wide to me but then it is started from the bottom up all in one piece so I will work a few more rows into it before I decide it's fate. If I decide to continue on with it I will take a photo tomorrow.

I went up to Tesco today to get some food for the weekend. I know that my neighbour has offered to take me up for the heavy stuff but I had run out of bread, potatoes and something to cook for the weekend. I try not to shop at the weekend as I do hold people up when I totter along go slowly. I know that when I was fully fit and working I used to fume at little old ladies shopping at the peak times. I am mindful of this when I shop but sometimes it is unavoidable and I have to shop then. Thankfully I don't need to pay any more visits to Bury or Manchester before Christmas.

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments. My fingers aren't quite worn down to the nubbins Bev but my wrists are thankful that the aran is finished although I still have a cabled scarf to make. The Haru jacket is very easy to make June and Pammy Sue and with having the side splits it looks a very forgiving garment for people like me with a large derriere! Nice to see you back Tina. I am glad that the move went well. Sorry but you can't have my purple boots as they are mine all mine LOL. You do make me envious though knowing that you are baking Christmas cookies. My baking is very hit and miss which is probably a good thing at the moment as I am still battling with the weight and if I could bake then it would make cutting down even harder. Not that I am in the mood for cutting down at the moment. It is Christmas and to me dieting and Christmas don't belong in the same sentence!