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Rainbows

I’ve noticed a lot of rainbows in my life this last few months. Not only have I felt compelled to create them with crochet, like the toddler leg warmers (free pattern here)

dark star keeping snuggly in her leg warmers

dark star keeping snuggly in her leg warmers

but they just seem to be around me a lot. It stands to reason with all this weird weather which has included rain, rain and more rain as the constant backdrop to howling winds that when the sun did get a walk on part in the production, rainbows would follow. I think I have seen more rainbows in the sky in the last month than I have in the last two years.
 

Here is one outside my bedroom window a few weeks ago. 

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I have a beautiful crystal in my living room window to catch the morning light. We live on the side of a valley so we get less sunshine than ‘up the top’ the sun comes in a little later and leaves us much earlier. You don’t see a proper sunset here unless you take a walk through the woods up into the farmers fields, you can see the thin strip of woods that borders our valley in the photo above. It isn’t really a ‘woodland’ as such, I believe on the map it is labelled “Long Coppice”. It been many many years since it was used as a coppice though, it does its own thing now mostly it is a nice place for a walk and local children like to play there. I’m rambling (as usual) I could probably write a whole blog post about the place, I am really very fond of it.

Back to the rainbows…

The crystal in the living room was a gift at my blessingway held just two days before the Little Dark Star arrived Earthside. She loves “nonna’s rainbows” as we call them. Excuse the crayon on the wall!!

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I even have a crystal in the window of Sallyvan so that space too will be filled with rainbows at least once a day. Here is a picture of the Little Dark Star napping among the rainbows (and some butterflies!)on our recent trip away. image 

I adore rainbows I really really do. Rainbows as we all know from our school science lessons, are white light split into seven (visible) colours. It is stunning how each colour is different but yet belong together so harmoniously. Sunlight is a kind of colourless thing yet contained within it are these amazing colours. Rainbows remind me that there is beauty hidden around us all the time, we just need the tools to see it, just because something isn’t visible, it doesn’t mean it is not there, just like love I suppose.  

True rainbows created by rain and sun have always been a symbol of hope for me. Even though rain is falling there is something beautiful that can be made from it and I think this probably resonates with many of us because even as adults we still feel wowed by the sight of a rainbow, like children we will excitedly rush to see it and encourage others to join us. Rainbows are wonderous things indeed.

It was yet another rainbow sneaking in that compelled me to write this blog post. As you know if you have visited my blog before I am making the As We Go blanket and having a little crochet-a-long on FB. (you can read about that HERE) I decided to keep colour combos fairly random, I’ve just been mindful of not putting too many strong colours together or ones that are just not nice with each other. I’ve been joyfully hooking up the last few rows when I suddenly realised this had happened…

As We Go Blanket

Can you see it? Yes I have inadvertently made a ‘rainbow’ combination and I LOVE it! 🙂 Less deep and strong than the toddler leggings but oh so delicious! Feeling really inspired about combining these colours like this for the next project I have planned.

This week I also found my Nan’s crochet hook and I am truly delighted to hold it once again. You can read about my Nan and this hook in this previous blog post, I found it buried in a big ball of yarn of a project started quite some times ago (an adult star poncho) but never got back to.
vintage crochet hook As you can see it is a bit shorter than my regular hooks. It probably suited my Nan’s crochet hook hold perfectly, she tended to hold it like a pencil whereas I hold it like a knife. The pencil hold looks much daintier but I find I have better tension and control the other way.

I have had a lovely February what with my birthday, the As We Go crochet-A-long getting underway and having our first trip of the year in our lovely Sallyvan.

We had a weekend in Seaford, the van was a stones throw from the beachfront and we had some lovely weather. We also had some insane wind and some rain too at night but I love the sound on the rain on the ‘van roof and I could hear the waves crashing and receeding all night, it was almost womb like. The older girls got on well considering we decided forgo the awning due to the winds, so we were rubbing along in a fairly small space all the time. The upper middle child (we shall call her The Funny One from now on, because she is! funny ha ha that is, rather than funny odd) even helped Golden Hair with her maths homework whilst I sneaked in some rows on the blanket.

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not a manicured and swanky site but still lovely and very friendly

not a manicured sand swanky site but still lovely and very friendly

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The As We Go blanket.

The As We Go blanket.

Finally here is a peek at the as we go blanket again. Yummy Scrummy!

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As We Go blanket crochet-a-long

I asked if anyone would like to crochet along with me using the As We Go pattern from this blog

Not Your Average Crochet

There is eight of us crocheting it together. I am really REALLY enjoying not only seeing everyones blankets grow but helping those a bit newer to crochet to work through the pattern and iron out glitches.

If you would like to join us we are here

https://www.facebook.com/groups/595826590494144/

I’d love to add you to the group 🙂

Here is a couple of pics where I am explaining some areas to other group members to help them with problem areas

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Taking Orders

Like many other crocheters I am full to bursting at all times with ideas of things I want to make as well as the desire to have a go at patterns I have seen. I want to make things for the little dark star, for family, for friends and also For Sale.

Even if there were another 6 hours in the day and an extra day a week I still couldn’t get to create all the things I am constantly itching to be making. This is probably one of the reasons I always have several different projects on the go at once, so I can at least indulge my need to be making many things by doing them simultaneously. Of course there is portabilty and place to be considered too.

It’s good to have a project underway that you can work in many situations:-

like a little hat

like a little hat

*Whilst on a train/bus: needs to be small, one or two balls required to be able to work on it

*A project for in the car or the caravan (our’s is named Sallyvan as a tribute to a very special person in my life story, maybe I will blog about it someday), actually I tend to take a few projects for holidays in Sally because I never know what mood I will be in. can be more balls and larger or lots of small squares

Baby Starburst Blanket

*A project you can pick up and put down at home whilst cooking tea/watching TV/enjoying 15 mins peace whilst the Little Dark Star is bathed by Daddy.

a wee bit blurry!

a wee bit blurry!


You get the gist? This is standard addicted crocheter behaviour.

Within all these projects there will be The Orders. Often I will make one of something and it will create an avalanche of people all wanting the same thing, though maybe different colours and sizes (I can’t even bring myself to post a picture of the item I think I ended up making about 25 of in the end) Sometimes it will be just one person wanting me to make another of something I have made as a special order for someone else.

I find myself constantly at a kind of juxtaposition of enjoying the fact my creations are attractive enough to people for them to ask me to make more but feeling I’d really like to be making something new and different instead. I can’t ignore the fact of course that The Orders help fund my habit and cover the cost of more supplies.

I feel there is a difference to between taking ‘a commission’ and ‘taking orders’. A commission is someone asking me to either create a pattern from scratch or find one for something specific. The aviator hat was such an item. imageThen someone else asked me to make another and I said OK because I like this person a lot but my heart wasn’t in it and in the end I got so distracted for so long by other things I never did make it. That’s bad of me and I still feel awful about it. When it came to it though, every single time I tried to make a start I just couldn’t, it felt like when your parents say you have to finish your homework before you can go out and play with your mates and they are all already waiting outside for you, you can hear them giggling and having a good time out in the sunshine. I just knew if I really forced myself I could do it but it wouldn’t be made with the same level of love and enjoyment as the first one. I kept telling myself “after you’ve made these bootees then you’ll make the hat” “after you’ve just experimented with that blanket you’ve had an idea for, then you will start it” I just kept making excuses. I felt bad the whole time and it started sucking the joy out of he stuff I wanted to make.

I probably sound like a right whinger? I don’t mean to. Like I said its lovely people want to order things, a real compliment to my work but at time I feel like it really stifles creativity. There are some items I just adore making and am happy to hook up endless quantities, like baby bootees and soft cotton scarves.image Really I’d be much much happier making things as the moment takes me and then selling them if they aren’t a gift for someone but that doesn’t really work. What I love to make, things I think are amazing or beautiful don’t always appeal to others, I think I have off beat tastes in colour choices. It can be hard getting your things seen unless its already on someones head, neck, legs and then we go back to the full circle of making many of the same thing for lots of people when really I was only intending to make one or two.

I guess what is important to me is that I make things with love and joy. I adore the idea of someone wearing or using a handmade thing rather than a factory far away made thing but when you get past making a certain amount of something you’ve really become a one woman manufacturing operation and the sentiment and craft of it is somewhat diminished. I wonder if fellow crocheters/crafters feel the same?

I was avoiding The Orders today, naughty me, so as it is my birthday I treated myself to making a good start on the As We Go blanket. If you read my previous blog entry you’ll know I bought a lovely glut of cheap and cheerful Stylecraft Special DK to make the blanket with.

Here is where I am so far.

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I am totally ADORING it! Although the rows are quite long (193 stitches) the choosing/planning the next colours and knowing you’ll me doing a new stitch soon makes it feel really exciting.

It was orignally a CAL at Not Your Average Crochet and I’d be absolutely thrilled if just one person wanted to start one too so I we can enjoy comparing and contrasting and help each other along. It would be the best birthday present ever really 🙂

Edited to add: Theres six now in the CAL if you’d like to join there is a FB group.

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What came first…

the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the yarn or the pattern?

I’m interested in what other people tend to do when it comes to buying yarn.

I have on occasion bought a pattern or crochet book and then bought some yarn with specific pattern in mind but mostly I am an impulse purchaser. I will go to stock up on something I’m running low on and need a little bit more of for an ongoing project and then be ambushed by some yarn I never intended to buy and have no idea what to do with. This happened ‘by proxy’ earlier this month. A fellow crocheter stumbled across this little scene at her local House of Fraser

Glorious Yarny Bargains!

Glorious Yarny Bargains!

Naturally I lost my head and she bought a huge glut of cut price Rowan All Seasons Chunky my behalf. We arranged to meet at Borough Market and did a handover from her buggy to mine. I giggled to myself about it on the way home on the train, one yarn addict feeding another’s addiction and exchanging bags of the good stuff on side streets under the railway arches. We all have our vices eh?

This was the glorious haul before she smuggled it to London via train under the cover of darkness….. actually it was more like the 9:40 from somewhere in Northamptonshire.
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I actually now have probably more than enough yarn to open a small stall or even shop. It’s ridiculous but still more keeps falling into my arms and coming home with me. I’m actually really really properly out of room now.

I have filled two large blanket boxes, 20 large stacker boxes, two deep shelves in my bedroom, a drawer under my bed and several miscellanous ‘project’ bags. The stash above has been hidden in the upstairs hall cupboard where hopefully my husband will not discover my guilty secret….

My nan (Nanny 2 as she is known, the crocheting nan sadly no longer with us was known as Nanny 1) is a knitter doesn’t seem to suffer this impulse buy problem, she might once in a blue moon buy a quantity of yarn that is a really good deal because she knows in her head she has a pattern it will be useful for in her collection, but mostly she goes to the shop with exact yarn and quantities in mind, for a specific pattern to make something for a specific person. She might substitute it if the yarn works out too pricey but she will buy what she needs for the project and nothing else. She just doesn’t get utterly seduced by the yarn the way I do.

I’ve been wondering is this a knitting vs crochet thing? are all crocheters more like me and will amass yarn then either go looking for some patterns or just get creative? whereas knitters tend to be more focussed only keeping to what they need, when they need it? Perhaps its the nature of crochet in that it lends itself to making lots of small items and is forgiving of a bit of mix and match and knitting to me seems to be more about the long project, large clothing items etc so you have to be sure you have enough to complete and from the same dye lot, so purchases of a couple of balls of this and that is just a bit wasteful? I’m not suggesting some crochet isn’t very precise in quantity and needs forward planning for a project like an adult sweater, but to date that’s not really my style at all.

I guess now is a good time to confess that a few short days after collecting the above yarn…

this happened

Excuse the crumbs on the rug, I've been out all day and not hoovered yet and just tipped these out for a photo.

Excuse the crumbs on the rug, I’ve been out all day and not hoovered yet and just tipped these out for a photo.

I wasn’t sure if I would like Stylecraft DK as it is 100% acrylic and some acrylic only yarns can be a bit yuck. I am not a yarn snob, I believe there is a need for different kinds of yarns for each individual project. I have to TOUCH the yarn to decide. I’d ordered some of the Stylecraft because I needed orange for a project I was working on (the toddler leggings and a rainbow cowl) and orange seems to be really REALLY hard to find. I liked it so ordered a load more! I think its a bit thinner than a lot of double knits, it feels kind of half way between DK and 4 ply but I think it does have a nice texture to it, slippy and soft and also works up really nicely (I think I might consider going down a hook size though so the work doesn’t end up to lacy/open unintentionally), it also comes in a huge range of colours and is super inexpensive 🙂

This pattern is what I have in mind for it

http://notyouraveragecrochet.com/as-we-go-stripey-blanket/

Will eventually be a bed cover for the little dark star’s bed when she moves into a Big Bed of her own. Of course I am doing my usual last minute procrastination “should I really use this yarn for that project? Perhaps I should do join as you go granny squares? Maybe The Wendy Blanket I saw on Ravelry?” I do this ALL THE TIME. I teeter for some time on the verge of starting a long term, yarn heavy, time heavy project then after gripping the side of the imaginary ‘pool’ with my toes arms out front hesitating I plunge in head first into the gloriousness of A New Project and lose myself in a kind of obsession for it for weeks on end. I have been unable to sleep some nights thinking about the next square or the next row on a big project.

Honestly, I am nuts about crochet. Utterly bonkers.

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Sew and sew.

I was on FB chat till late last night with a very good friend of mine, she’s younger and cooler than me by miles and yet what were we chatting about?

Our sewing machines.

I am no hot shot with sewing but I do enjoy it. The golden haired child loves it too but is only hand sewing at the moment till we get a machine that she can operate and that doesn’t have ‘tension issues’ It is I who is tense as I write those two words, I wish my sewing machine would stop creating insane looped tangled horrors half way along a piece of fabric. I seem to break all machines in this way periodically.

I actually have two sewing machines an electric one and a hand cranked one (I’m not counting the first borns cheapy one she got one christmas because…. well I proper broke it).

The electric is a Singer. I think we inherited it from the guy in the shop next door to the man of the yurts work place. She needed a service and her tension looked at (sigh) and then worked beautifully for ages. The man in the sewing machine shop really liked her.

The old girl

The old girl

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Apparently her all metal construction not only makes her weigh a ton it means she can sew just about anything including leather and denim seams apparently. She got that funny lift up bit as you can see in the second pic, the manual I downloaded explains these are for the ‘fashion disc/cams’ which allow you to do decorative stitching. I like her for her no nonsense look and the fact she is super tough.

Now my other machine is probably my favorite. She is a Jones ‘Family D53’ She’s not adorned with fancy gold decals like many hand machines but again, I love her for her honest no nonsense appearance. She is old and bashed and worn and yet I still think she is lovely in her own special way.

She has the weird long bobbin and shuttle inside it is like a fancy bullet.

Long bobbin and shuttle

Long bobbin and shuttle

Because no shop bought pre loaded bobbins fit her I have to load the bobbin with thread each time I want a new colour (or run out of the existing one). I don’t mind it too much, its fun cranking the handle and watching the little mechanisms carefully fill the bobbin up, gently swaying back and forth to spread the thread evenly. Using the machine is something I really LOVE, when you get up some speed on long straight hems or similar she’s like a little steam engine going (obviously without any steam other than mine!) Sometimes I almost expect her to start chuffing and a whistle to blow. This is me and Mrs Jones I am making a tudor costume for the first born some years back.
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I think she was made in the 1930’s and is very simple looking compared to other Jones machines. I am guessing she was aimed at a lower end of the market. What I love about that is the idea of unknown women before me sat at that machine making clothes and house fabrics possibly a lot of wartime ‘make do and mend’. I know its probably slightly crazy but I get this sense of history from it. I wonder how many women have sat in front of it and cranked it handle? What did they make? Who were they? What kind of lives did they have? Was my old Jones once pride of place in someone’s home? So many questions I will never know the answer to, I like thinking of the possibilities though. Working the handle is a kind of meditation for me, the constant repeating sounds of the inner workings as the bobbin flies back and forth, the cotton spool turning as the take up lever bobs up and down drawing in new thread. There’s something about those sounds all happening without electric input and the sound of a motor buzzing that feels like magic to me.

Sadly both machines are waiting patiently for me to get them ship shape again and start making things. I have projects just waiting to happen (and one to be finished that I started when I was first pregnant with the little dark star). Right now life with an extremely inquisitive “help you mummy!” toddler doesn’t allow for me and my machines to spend any time together.

I guess I should tell you about the other kind of ‘sew’ from the blog title and that is sewing in ends *groan*

Wouldn’t it be great if they all just magically popped in nice and securely by themselves? Sadly not though. I tell myself project after project SEW THEM IN AS YOU GO. Do I though? only very very rarely.

Here’s a work in progress I started some months ago but had to stop for a while to make a whole load of bear ear hats.

Hexagon Granny Blanket

Just a few ends there, not too bad eh?

Till you turn it over….

So many ends!!!

So many ends!!!

Why do I do this to myself?

I am really meticulous about sewing in ends they have to be just so, I cannot stomach the thought they will all start working free like oiled spaghetti and my hard work will fall apart before my very eyes. I don’t trust knots on their own as I’ve noticed that a lot of yarns start unknotting even as you are still working and in some projects knots seem to stop the work from moving naturally because there is a bump buried in there. I’m taking a belt and braces approach with this blanket, there are knots (naughty!) and I am also going to weave all the ends in really thoroughly. It’s a lot of ends so I am not taking any chances!

If you like this granny hexagon blanket you can find a brilliant tutorial at Petals to Picots
http://www.petalstopicots.com/2013/03/granny-hexagon-pattern-my-latest-love/

That was quite a long post. I hope you made it all the way to the end? Back to the hexagons for me whilst the little dark star is napping.

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