Friday, 25 November 2011

66 - How Did That Happen?

The years are rattling around far quicker than they used to. It seems like just a few months since I said 65. I don't know how people who have retired can say they are bored. I simply don't have enough hours in a day. Even when I am having a down day the hours still whizz by. The only time I look at the clock is to say blimey is it that time already? I can honestly say that the minutes never crawl around for me. Considering that I have more hours awake in a day than a lot of people I should achieve far more than I do.

The parcel delivery postman was the first to call this morning and he brought me some wool (for a change) and a Kristin Omdahl crochet book from I pre ordered this book months ago so it's funny that it arrived on my Birthday. Sort of another present to myself. For years I have had a phobia about crocheting circles or joining circles together as I go along. This book comes with a DVD so I am hoping that when I watch it the veil will lift from my eyes.

The letter postman arrived later with a few cards and this magazine. I am not 100% certain whether this is a gift or whether it is part of my normal Crochet Today magazine subscription as it didn't have any clues inside it. I am sure that I will find out eventually. The DVD in the middle is a birthday present from my nieces as I never watched any episodes of Downton Abbey on TV. Series 2 is now showing on TV but I don't want to watch that until I have seen the first series. They also bought me a new electric kettle so now I can make coffee without flooding the work surface. The old kettle started leaking a few weeks ago.

My family have bought me a  super warm red long jacket which is like a duvet with sleeves. I went up the village on my scooter the other day and came back absolutely frozen and winter isn't here yet. I have also bid on eBay and won a second hand cozy for my legs. Just waiting for it to be delivered. When winter comes (as long as it doesn't snow) I will be able to carry on shopping on my scooter as usual instead of huddling indoors..

After the post came around lunchtime I thought of going for a shower to look half way decent but my friend Sylvia rang to say that I should be receiving a present any time soon. When the doorbell rang a bit later there was a florist standing there with these.

Lovely brightly coloured flowers. Sylvia knows that I love purple so they are shades of purple, lilac with some bright orange flowers in there. I will put them in water as soon as I have finished writing this blog.

I knitted a pair of fingerless mitts for my next door neighbour. He had commented about my crochet fingerless mitts when I put a photo on Facebook. I didn't think that he would suit blue mingled with flowers on so I knitted him a pair in dark green pure wool for warmth.

 I also crocheted this hat from a pattern I bought on Etsy but as it was a US pattern the UK wool, that I used, must have been thinner so instead of turning out a ladies size it has come out more of a large child size. That is the only problem that I have with using patterns from the US their wool is always a different thickness to the UK. Sometimes I can sort out the approximate thickness and other times, like last night, when I guess then  I am way off. I could do with one of my US friends making me up a thickness chart with sample strands of the thickness of some of the most popular yarns. Worsted is the worse one for me to sort out. There seems to even be different thicknesses of worsted in the US. As yarn is now made all over the world and is international instead of regional as in the old days pre Internet you would have thought they would have sorted out some system by now.

Would it not be a lot easier if the world adopted the same method of grading thickness of yarn. I don't suppose that would work though as every country would think that their method was the best one. There are enough arguments about which country came first with the names of  crochet stitches. I have no idea why the same stitches are called different names in different places. It all must have happenend a very long time ago. It's still all very confusing though.

I am now making cowls and neckwarmers. I have a grey one almost finished except for buttons and am half way through a blue one. Photos later. Time is ticking on to the next craft fair and so I must get a bit of a hussle on.

Thanks to everyone who has sent me Birthday wishes via e mail or Facebook. Your thoughts are appreciated.

I have just had a phone call saying that I am getting some company for a few days. Buster is coming so that will be good company for me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I'm Still around

Sorry folks. Just not been in the mood for blogging of late. Just feeling generally out of sorts. You know the feeling. Nothing specifically wrong with me. I just call it my winter blues. It happens around this time of year. Usually it's not this bad but this year for some reason I have had a real case of lack of motivation.

I am still crocheting but just not taking many photos. A lot of the small stuff that I made got sold at the last craft fair so I am trying to motivate myself to make more.

I bought a 'new to me' chunky Brother 230 knitting machine with a ribber but apart from a few practise pieces I haven't actually made anything as yet. I am still in the learning curve.

Here are some of the things for Christmas presents and the next craft fair.

Headbands from patterns that I bought on Etsy. It's a great place to find patterns and as they get sent to your e mail they are usually much cheaper than any other place.

This is a cowl/hood. I made it from a US pattern and my wool wasn't as thick so it has come out a bit smaller (tighter) than it should have. Now I know what to do I will just add more stitches next time. I made the fingerless mitts from a rectangle of crochet in the same stitch. Sewed them up leaving holes for the thumbs and adding a small flower for decoration.

Some more jazzy fingerless mitts made in the same method but this time I crocheted around the thumb hole to make small thumb cozies. No pattern for these just a bit of improvisation.

I have had lots of patterns from Etsy and eBay and also my usual magazines including the Interweave Crochet accessories 2011 which has some good ideas for winter warmers.

Some photos from the last craft fair that I did at the Longfield Suite in November. The next one is on Dec 18th so although I still have heaps of things left from the last fair I need to make more of the small things that did sell such as headbands and fingerless mitts as well as some other bits and pieces perhaps with a more Christmassy theme.

Sadly no-one bought my bride dolls or my bridesmaid doll even though I was asking a ridiculously low price (in my eyes) for them as they took ages to make. Maybe they will sell at the Christmas fair. I should really update my Etsy store or try Folksy which is the UK version of Etsy. I just haven't had the motivation lately. I really should do it before Christmas if I want any sales.

I bought this pattern on Etsy. It is called the San Francisco bag should you wish to buy a pettern. I was really easy to make. The hardest part was doiing the linings as I am not much good at sewing. They will make nice small gifts for little girls this Christmas and have used up a lot of oddments.

I continue to keep buying more wool so will be in the poor house soon. My credit card bill is now bordering on the ridiculous. I need to sell more than I buy and I haven't got to that part yet. I know that I need to speculate to accumulate but so far all I am doing is parting with my money (or rather money that I don't have)

This is just the tip of the iceberg of my latest purchases. Plus I now have enough machine yarn on cones to open my own shop! My house is rapidly disappearing under a mountain of yarn. I will be being filmed for Hoarders as my family will be contacting the show if I don't tidy up soon. I just have no interest in housework whatsoever. I do the bare minimum of washing dishes and clothes and push the hoover about but I am just so untidy that I dread any visitors. It has now gone past the lived in look and gone to woolly untidiness. I never used to be like this. Maybe it's just part of my general depression issues. Maybe I just need a kick up the rear! I could do with a buddy to direct me along the path of tidiness and chat to me whilst I do it.

I went to a friend's wedding on Saturday and had a lovely time. It did me good to get out of the house for a while. Tonight I am going out for tea with my niece and my 'honorary niece' who has been around in the family so long that she is part of it in everything but blood. It's an early Birthday treat for me. It does feel so nice not to have to think about what to cook for myself.

My spine and knees continue to be a pain. I go to see a specialist on Dec 16th. Not for another replacement yet just to have an operation to see what is going on inside the left knee. I have now reached an all time weight high which isn't helping my mobility. I know that this will be the main topic of conversation when I get to the hospital. I weighed around 160 lbs before all of the problems with my spine and knees started but now because of immobility I am probably almost double that. I am a dieting failure. I eat when I am depressed and I am depressed about my lack of mobility so I eat. Join the circle as it goes around. 

Last, but not least, is my little furry neighbour Poppy who regularly comes through the hedge to amuse me. This day she got hold of a ball of wool and was chasing it all around the house. She has never shown any interest in my wool before. I couldn't do anything for laughing as she wound it in and out and around furniture legs. She is usually such a quiet serious dog as she is not as young as she once was but that day she was definitely having a puppy moment.

I will try to update my blog more regularly. If you have any spare motivation can you send me some please!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Machine Knitted Shawlette

I have been experimenting with machine knitting part of a shawlette and then crocheting around the edge. My crochet buddy Sue has been waiting patiently for me to press it out and take a photo. So these are for you Sue.

This first shawl came out a bit long and narrow but now I know what my machine can turn out I will change the increasing and decreasing for next time. It is worked corner to corner, First increasing every 4th row to the centre and then decreasing every 4th row. The wool was an antique cone of Argyll Neopolitan from eBay which has a cotton content and also has loops of the white cotton, which you may be able to see, giving it a slightly rough texture rather than a smooth one. My next aim is to sort out the lace carriage as I have quite a few fine machine cones in plain colours which would look better with a bit of interest in the centre V rather than plain stocking stitch.

Ooh naked dolls. These are for an idea of mine for the Christmas stall. I have got quite a few knit and crochet patterns for the teenage dolls (there are 12 of them) and I am sure that I can adapt something for the smaller dolls. The crochet finger puppets are another idea for using scraps of yarn.

More Ice bargains from eBay. The one on the left with Merino in it will probably be a crocheted shawl. The one on the right is called Sausage. It has a very thin black thread with sausages of pink and lilac fluffy bits. Not sure what that will turn into as yet.

More books and magazines. The Austentatious book is based on the crochet fashions that Jane Austen would have worn but with a modern twist of course. The middle book is a baby book that is plainer than the frilly matinee patterns that I  have. I hope to make something out of it for new baby Gracie when I get the time.

The pattern on the left is a booklet that came all the way from the USA via eBay. The pattern on the front cover is the nicest one in the book though. The cabled headband pattern is one that I bid for on eBay.

I think that the motif on the front of this jacket is pretty and unusual.

A knitted beret , as a change from crochet. This also came from a vintage hat pattern from eBay.

I used the basic turban pattern from Drew Emborsky for this headband. Mine didn't look too great when I gathered the front up as per the pattern so I crocheted a tiny strip to go over this to neaten it up. It looks great on the pattern and I am sure that it will on most people. I look like a land army girl about to go and dig some potatoes when I try it on. Or an old washerwoman. All that is missing is the pinny.

This is a headband that I adapted from a crocheted edging in a very old crochet book. I threaded maroon satin ribbon through and have  finished it off with 2 buttons at the back. If the band stretches with wash and wear then the buttons can be sewn in a different place,

The hat pattern was from a vintage crochet pattern from eBay and the flower came from Ravelry. I decided to put the row of brown around the edge of the cream flower to make it more of a match for the hat.

Today I am going to try some wristbands and a small handbag from patterns that I bought from Etsy. I will show you them when I have finished. Once again they are multi coloured and so will be great patterns for using up odds and ends.

I also bought 3 solid brown plastic alice bands and 6 covered hair bobble elastics whilst I was out shopping. I have ideas for covering them with crochet and adding flowers.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I Must Stop Bidding On eBay

My only excuse for too much bidding on eBay is that I have had some kind if a bug this last week which has made me so weak and tired that I haven't had much energy for anything. Unfortunately not crocheting much gives me too much time to eBay browse and for me that is bad for my credit card. I think that I will have to hide it for a few weeks.

These are some of my latest buys. Not just one ball ,of course, but varied amounts of each one. The white one by Ice on the end does not show that it is mohair and has multi coloured sequins wound into the thread. That will be turned into a shawl for Christmas. Not sure what to make with the other yarns yet.

These items came from Kemp's clearance sale. The pink and lilac 4ply cotton was only 99p for a 50 gram balls. That will be saved in my personal stash for Summer crochet. The rest is acrylic destined for fingerless mitts and headbands etc. Plus I needed more of the reduced price metal buttons for fingerless mitts. To buy these in a shop would put £££'s on the mitts. The circular handles are destined for crochet handbags.

I found this pattern in an accessories book. They have short row shaping which makes them a good fit. I did adapt the pattern as they were supposed to have 9 buttons on each mitt which would have out the price up. I am going to make myself a pair of these for the winter.

This is an adaptation of another pair of mitts. They were supposed to be in UK dc with a cable up the centre but the cable started looking as though it was slanting sideways for some reason. It looked OK on the hand but would have not looked good at the fair unless people tried them on. I changed the basic stitch and added a crochet bar with 2 buttons as a bit of a trim.

The patterns came from eBay bids but the Twilleys Goldfingering came from Purplelinda. I wanted that for Christmas decorations or lurex trims.

The turban style headband was so easy to make. It can be worn with the bow at the front or at the back.

This was my interpretation of a headband that I made before the pattern arrived. It is worked from side to side and I put buttons on it instead of stitching it together so that if it got larger with wash and wear then the buttons could be moved to tighten it back up again.

This cap was made from a vintage Paton's pattern that I bought from eBay. I used a DK pure wool crocheted two strands together as I didn't have any chunky in hat colours.

A couple of weeks ago I bid for a mixed bag of different balls of yarn mostly fluffy or cotton. I sorted the greens out and together with some balls that I already had in stash I made one of my multi coloured versions of Doris Chan All Shawl. They are brilliant stash busters if you have not already made one.

Today I didn't get up until lunch time but yesterday and today I seem to be sleeping the bug away. I am finally starting to feel a bit better. Thank goodness for food in the freezer as I haven't felt like stepping out of doors other than to chat to the postman for the last few days. The postman and I are now on first name terms!

I hate feeling one degree under. Anything that puts me off my crochet really annoys me. I tried to crochet but I either fell asleep over it or went wrong and had to undo it. Thankfully I think that my crochet Mojo is back today. I am making another headband. This time in a twisted imitation cable pattern. The parcel postman has just brought me two more packs of Ice wool from eBay so hopefully more photos tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 September 2011


Today is my late Mum's birthday. If she was still with us she would have been 101 today. I don't have any photos of her when she got older and ill so I like to remember her and my Dad as they are on their Golden Wedding Day. They had a great day as you can tell from their faces. This was taken back in the days when she still coloured her hair. When she stopped she had the most glorious colour of silver grey as did my maternal Grandma. Maybe one day I will inherit that colour and then I can throw away the hair dye. Unfortunately I am still dark haired under the blonde with hardly any signs of grey apart from 2 white wings over each ear.

A friend Steve, who now lives in Spain, put this photo of me on Facebook. It was taken at a Halloween party about 27 yrs ago. That is the natural colour of my hair. It is far too dark for my complexion now that I have aged. My witch hat was decorated with a crocheted silver spider web with a knitted spider with red sequins for the eyes.

I am feeling a bit more alert today. I have got 3 lines of washing drying outdoors as we are having a rare sunny day here in Manchester. It was lovely yesterday but I had run out of washing powder.

I have still not taken any more photos. I am more concerned with trying to get my living rooms and bedrooms back to normal. Well normal for me that is!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Craft Fair

I am here. Recovering from my first craft fair. I don't know whether I have picked up a bug or it's just tiredness from getting ready for the fair but I have been so tired for the last few days it's a wonder that I am awake now. I will have to get my sleep apnea machine checked out as well as that can make me really tired if it is not set to the right pressure. I have been out doing some food shopping today so hopefully the fresh air will have woken me up a bit.

The photos of the craft fair are disappointing. My niece took them and I don't know whether it was the lighting (a bit on the dim side) or a bit of camera shake but they are all a bit blurred.

Although I did sell a few things ( some bought by my sister in law) I did learn a lot from my first fair. To be fair the venue had let the organiser down with the advertising. They had promised to put posters up in the foyer and a sandwich board outside and when we got there nothing drew the eye to the fact that there was a craft fair going on in the hall, The organiser has also learnt from this experience and will make sure that there is more advertising done for the November fair. I am going to try to take some of those portable lights with me to try to illuminate my stall for next time.

I have learned that I need to gauge my potential customer base better. A lot of people admired my crochet remarked how beautiful it all was but it wasn't what they were wanting. I told everyone that came to the stall that I was a novice at the craft fairs and asked them for suggestions. They have given me lots of ideas. My customer base on Sunday was mostly fashionable young ladies mostly without children. My next fair will incorporate more items such as handbags (which I got asked for) and small gift ideas for Christmas.

I also had a rival stall who was selling hand knitted baby cardigans for as little as £2.50p!!  I enquired discretely and she is not going to be at the next two fairs. I don't understand ladies like her. She can only have made pennies in profit on those cardigans by the time she had paid for the yarn and the buttons. It makes the rest of the stallholders look as though they are overcharging. The prices have to reflect the cost of the raw materials plus the cost of the stall and transport to and from the venue. The only profit is what is left over after I have taken all these costs into consideration. Luckily my niece gave me a lift with my stuff and helped to set up the stall. I would have made nothing had I paid for a taxi there and back. I also have to take into account the money that I have paid for display props like the polystyrene heads, hands and dolls as well as the clothing rail. Even if I do well on the next two craft fairs I won't really make much profit until all the money for these is re paid into my account. Still as my Dad would say - You have to Speculate to Accumulate.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself on the day and that is the most important thing. I knew when I entered into this that I was  never going to make a fortune. It gives me an interest. Something to work towards and look forward to.

I could have sold loads of these fingerless gloves but I made the mistake of following a pattern (so unlike me) and they were too large for most peoples hands. Luckily I only made two pairs and my daughter in law has quite large hands so they will be put with her Christmas present. I got asked for them in black with military buttons on by a guy so I am taking his idea on board also.

This hat and scarf set was admired by so many people that I am surprised that it didn't sell. I wasn't making much profit on this as it was Collinette wool and the two hanks cost me quite a bit even on eBay

This hat did sell. It is made of handspun wool with a mohair content so once again I couldn't really charge as much as I should have as the wool was expensive. Still it didn't take me that long to crochet so it's swings and roundabouts.It isn't such a bright pink as the photos shows. It is a mix of pale pink, lilac and cerise.

This hat was picked up and admired so many times that I was sure that it would get sold. Perhaps they would have preferred a darker colour.

I sold one of these sweet little hats. I thought that they were rather pretty and felt sure that they would have both sold.

I didn't sell any of my baby items although they were greatly admired. Most people said they would have bought them if they knew of a baby. The lady on the next stall to me said that I should gift box them up in cellophane boxes and put ribbons on them and they would look more attractive. I will have to price out these boxes as I would have to increase my prices to adjust for this extra spending. The darker colours of baby wear were the ones that caught everyones eye. She also said that I should look out for any local baby fairs as that would be the proper market for my baby wear.

I sold two of the shawlettes in dark multi colours but they were made by my crochet partner Sue who decided to join in the fairs with me, I sprung this fair on her at the last minute and she was going to be away with her man on holiday. Hopefully she will be at the next one. We met up on Monday and swapped ideas for what would be more suitable to make for the next fair. That one and the Christmas fair will be concentrating on smaller gift ideas.

I still haven't photographed most of the baby things that I made lately. Hopefully I will have got some more energy by the end of the week.

I did have a great evening at the Kings Arms Knit Club on Monday. Quite a few people came in and we were laughing and chatting away. We attracted the attention of a would be writer who was rather drunk but wanted to get ideas from us for a play he is writing. There was hardly any knitting or crocheting done after that, Just lots of laughter. No wonder he said that he prefers the company of women as they are more entertaining!