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Sophie’s Universe – End of part 6

It has been very slow progress here at the virtual yurt because we have all been really unwell with some kind of horrible cough and flu like illness that’s lasted on and off for weeks. I tried picking up my crochet and popping a few stitches in from my sick bed but trying to concentrate made my eyes actually hurt! Each stitch was painful for my head so I had to just take a little break.

So I’ve finally reached the end of part 6 and I’m hoping that last bit looks ok. In my mind once I’d decided on the light pink for the little tulips I wanted them to look like they were bright colour in the night time garden. The blues and purples representing the night sky.



I am as usual a bit undecided about the next colours. I want to keep breaking things up with sections of cream but I don’t want it to look to boring either. It’s the ‘roses’ coming up yet and I can’t decide if they shall be in the new bright pink I bought this week or if they are going to be made with the colour changing yellow yarn I have in my stash. 



I definitely wanted the yellow originally because I think the little flecks of colour will make them look a bit like the tea roses I have in my garden and remind me of my Nan’s rose garden too, but I’ve seen some flowers coming up that remind me of the yellow water hyacinths we have in our pond so am tempted to save the yellow for that. However the water hyacinths in the pond are a flat bright yellow so actually I might use the plain yellow I’d used earlier for those and do a side of roses in this colour change yellow then the bright pink in the roses before I decide for sure!

I had to buy a different cream yarn to what I’ve been using this week which gave me a bit of a sulky lip. I was given a huge amount of hobby craft vouchers for my birthday so I intended to get some more of their budget DK cream. The ONLY colour they didn’t have was the cream!!! I’ve bought the Women’s Institute cream instead. Hopefully it will look and feel ok. I actually really liked the one I was using before even though it was a cheapy one! 

The little dark star has gone to soft play with Daddy so I’m off for a turbo shower then as much hooky as I can cram in before they get home and I tackle the sunday dinner. 

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Still on Part 5 of Sophie’s Universe. 

So after long deliberations about the colours of the tulips and the next couple of rounds (and as you know I fussed about it quite a bit) I went for it in the bright pink for the tulips and loved them!



I used a lighter green to go behind the tulips (the purple petals round) so they might look like lots of foliage. I was just finishing that round when I spotted a horrible mistake….



That missing tulip was at the end of the first side of tulips I done. I almost cried at the thought of not only having to frog all the green but three sides of tulips too?

So I cheated a bit or as I like to think of it ‘was inventive’ I ripped right back to the tulips but slip stitched into the area, added a tulip and an extra set if chains into the corner (running the now incorrect ones behind) then crocheted over the two sets of chains on the next round. You’d only know I fluffed it up now if your looking at the back and can see the chain coming from the second to last tulip.

The next morning I came down and looked at the previous days work and just HATED the green I’d used! 



So I frogged all the way back to tulips AGAIN, then procrastinated over colours for ages….. Again.

And now I have this 



And I like it much better 🙂 I’m glad I frogged it even though it meant doing all those trebles again for a forth time! 

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Sophie’s Universe… Colour deliberations! 

So I’ve not ordered any special yarn for this project. There’s two reasons for that, firstly I wanted to get stuck in STRAIGHT away when I saw it and not have to wait to either go yarn shopping or have something delivered and secondly because as some of you already know I have a yarn stash that I could actually open a shop with! 

The way the colours have gone so far means I’ve worked with a fairly cool palate and only about 8 colours right up till the end of part 4. Because I’m behind with the project I can see what’s coming and I really feel I want a slightly more diverse selection for all the flowers and detail but on the other hand the small selection brings a kind of simple harmony to the project so far. 

I’ve got a really lush vibrant dark pink I’d like to use but I’m worried its just going to unbalance the whole thing. I feel like I’ve left I too late to introduce new colours but if I had put many more in much earlier it would have been too “busy” at the centre area. 

I can get pretty obsessive about things being just so and I worry terribly about ‘ruining’ something beautiful with a bad choice. Have you ever done that, made a big thing and realised one colour in there just wasn’t singing harmoniously with the rest and they have have ended up being the only thing your eye goes to and not in a good way at all?

Agonised over the pink with the kids last night, I whipped up three weeny rows to try and help visualise it and did a bit in purple instead. You can’t see the vibrancy of the pink here for some reason, it looks more red. It’s actually a shame I don’t have that tone because I think it just about settles in nicely there and will blend well once the project has grown if I used it a little more elsewhere. But it IS pink, very vibrant pink! 



I sort of have this tulip in my mind and it is very close to the actual colour I’m using.



So tempted to play it safe with the purple but here goes……



I’m going to go for it and if afterv several rows it’s just not right, I’m going to take a deep breath and frog it all back and change it! 



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Fingers in all the pies as usual!

After a long stint with the knitted toddler cardigan I’m now back to my usual ‘a million and one things on the go at once’ self. Of course it’s an exaggeration but it sometimes feels like a million.

The toddler cardi is on hold till I finally organise myself and buy something to block it on all at the same time. I want to be able to lay all the pieces out together so I can be sure I’m making everything the correct size.

I’ve picked up a long neglected WIP and been working on a few squares here and there over the last few weeks.

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I’m setting out the choices for the next square here because I have this ‘thing’ that each round in the square must not be the same as any adjacent square. So if I use cream in round 1 and lilac in round two, they must not already be in the round in that order in the surrounding squares? Does that make any sense? Probably not!

I’ve also done a few more hexagons on this really really long neglected WIP its the join as you go granny hexagon blanket by Petal to Picots

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I bought a huge glut of little 25g balls for this project because I fell in love with the colours. I’ve spent way way too much on them really because it’s only fairly average acrylic. In hindsight it was probably an impulse purchase I should have got under control. Whoopsie.

This week I finally managed to snatch enough hours here and there to write up the pattern for a chunky crochet cowl and list it on Etsy

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I’m now in the middle of writing up the pattern for a little puff stitch cowl I made last year. Before I had a go at writing patterns I really had no idea how much time it takes to write even a simple pattern properly. I use my ‘pages’ app on my ipad because I can convert to PDF with it but its frustrating, it behaves completely unpredictably and I’ve often spent several hours getting everything just right only for it to randomly jumble things up and hide pictures because I wrote an three extra words on one line further up the page. Grrrrrr.

I’ve also started on a CAL by Dedri at Look At What I Made I’m several weeks behind and playing catch up at the moment. It looks like its going to be a really exciting project though and I’m feeling very enthusiastic. I had a rummage through some of my DK stash (that I could get at anyway as we are starting work on a new kitchen and lots of my crafty things are inaccessible at the moment).

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I’m unlikely to use all of these colours but I’m keeping them to hand so I can just pick the next colour as I go and then once I’ve got a good selection I will just continue repeating those and put the others away. Because I have no one in mind yet as the recipient for the finished article I’m looking forward to just experimenting and being brave with it.

I also managed to hook up some little bootees on a whim last month. Bootees are always a way of making me smile.

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I’m not very well today and tucked up in bed 😦 I think I’m paying the price of a hectic February. I went to see Cats twice with my lovely Golden Hair daughter. Once for her birthday treat and once for mine! We both are a bit fanatical about the show. I saw it with the original cast and Golden Hair has been watching you tube versions for quite some time now. We were both like excited children going up on the stage to get Old Deuteronomy to sign our Brochure and Programme. This pic was pre signing of course.

2015/03/img_3921.jpg. We also had a long awaited visit from cousin and her little girl which had me all over excited and just after that The Little Dark Star was ill and I’ve been existing on very minimal sleep. It was inevitable really I would succumb to the illness too. That said I’m feeling more productive than I have in quite a while and I literally have had my fingers in the pie because I made a lovely chicken and veg one last week and I haven’t done that in YEARS. I’ve whipped up a soup today so I know I will have some good easy to prepare comfort food tomorrow whilst dealing with the Dreaded Lurgy and trying to amuse a now very much better bouncy toddler!

Thanks for stopping by. I shall try not to leave it so long to post again because I really do like sharing my crochet and craft journey here.

I’m going to make myself some hot lemons and honey to drink now then tuck myself under my duvet and have a little rest.

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Still nuts for knitting right now!

I’ve been sneaking in a little knitting when I can. It’s been a struggle though and some weeks I’ve managed only one row before other things demanded my time instead. I have now finished the main pieces for the toddlers cable cardigan and its time to knit the neckband on.

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I’m actually looking forward to it as it’s not something I have done before and I really enjoy the challenge of learning something new. I have a dilemma though. See those edges all curling in of the reverse stocking stitch? I think they are going to be annoying to seam after the neckband is done and will probably turn right inwards after seaming making the cardi look deformed. I’m deciding if I should block them now or after I’ve attached the neck band? Doing it now is easier because I can arrange the pieces out easily but I’m eager to crack on with the neck band. I am going to block them though. I’m a fan of blocking because it makes such a difference to the result of the final piece. I’m also hoping blocking this will help smooth out any issues with fluctuating tension (I’m still not consistent yet).

If you are doubtful about the benefits of blocking then take a look at this square I blocked for a project a while back. It makes such a difference and it became a joy to work with for joining.

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I had a wee splurge on some new patterns from Wool and The Gang. They aren’t cheap at £10 each but I really really wanted them.

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It is two cardigans and a cabled jumper. One if the cardigans will be knitted in super bulky on my 25mm wooden knitting needles. I found this yarn in my stash, I bought it a couple of years ago on impulse when I saw it.

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I’d provisionally thought it would be great for crochet cowls but I think it’s going to be perfect for a big sloppy cardi. I can’t decide on the green and blue blend of the black and silver grey toned one? Its acrylic and super silky and soft. I can’t be a yarn snob when making things for myself, I just can’t have real wool on my skin because I break out in a rash and itch like I’m being prickled all over with tiny bits of wire. If I want to wear something posh I have to use bamboo or cotton and that’s going to be too heavy and expensive for this project. I don’t think they even make bamboo in super chunky so I’d have to use multiple strands at once.

I’ve got this multistranded sofa throw on the big needles at the moment.

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I need to either finish it then start the cardi or move it carefully off into storage and indulge my urge to start making the cardi. I really should finish up at least one of my WIPs before commencing a new one but I just get too excited about starting new things when I find projects that excite me.

I’ve got all my girls home today for a sunday dinner so I’m off to prep the veggies now but before I go here’s a little pic of one of my boxes of joy/shame. Its a massive blanket box I got via freecycle when I was expecting the little dark star, it was meant to be fixed up and used as a toy store, here it is bursting with a small selection of my yarn stash. I have two of these blanket boxes. The bag on the left contains a half finished granny squares blanket that I will come back to once we venture out in Sallyvan again. Crochet is much more portable than knitting I have found so far.

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Oh here’s another one…..

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I also have two chests of drawers with yarn in too as well as some shelving in my bedroom. One day I will just open a yarn shop and craft drop in with a lovely cafe and my life will be complete in every way. We all need a dream don’t we?

Till then I best get using up my stash before it takes over the whole house!

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Still here and making things.

It’s been a busy time over christmas but I’ve still made time for some crafty business.

I made another Tartan Lula Hoop, this time for my firstborn.

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I tightened up my tension for this one as I think my yarn needle combo was a little off but in the end I don’t think it improved things, the resultant scarf is less pliable and drapey which I didn’t like but the stitches and pattern do look nice and neat. Slightly smaller needles and a relaxed tension is the answer for getting it to perfection the next time around. There will be a next time, I have some more delicious looking super chunky yarn begging to be used for this!

I’ve not abandoned my crochet for knitting entirely. My nan frogged four balls of Stylecraft Weekender chunky for me a while back and it’s been staring at me accusingly from the “chunky yarns storage box” ever since. After about four restarts till I was happy with hook size and stitches I made this lovely infinity cowl.

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Might get the pattern down on paper for this one because it’s pretty easy and fun to make. Despite my best efforts to get it just right it’s ended up a little long for a short pixie like me so it’s currently homeless and just prettying up my mannequin.

Remember my blog post about Nan teaching me to do knitted cables? Well since then I found a pattern I liked the look of for a toddler cardigan and as Nan came to stay for New Year I made a start on it so she was on hand to assist if I got stuck. I had about seven restarts on the back and a lot of help from Nan getting the first few rows right (who knew ribbing could be so irritatingly easy to mess up when you are a beginner?) I only made one mistake on the armhole decreases and managed to keep swearing to a minimum. It’s been great chilling on the sofas with Nan knitting together. She’s still making me a lovely long cardi with the yarn we chose on our shopping trip on her last visit.

Here’s work to date. I am actually so proud of myself for perseverance with this despite it being quite a challenge.

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If you look carefully at my left hand picture above you’ll see I was about to make a horrible mistake (at least I think it was here it happened). I’d moved a long way up the piece before I realised it was all going wrong and I had to undo and redo several pattern repeats SIX TIMES before I could work out how I was messing the cable up. I have to really concentrate when cabling and I like that, it keeps me engaged and pushing on with the project.

I’ve really settled into my left handed yarn hold for my knitting and prefer it to my old “English style” right handed method. I’m not doing it ‘right’ for the purl stitch but the result looks absolutely fine and it works so I think I will just be unique and a bit deviant and not bother trying to make myself do it By The Book 😉 It’s definitely faster knitting the German way but like crochet it is harder going on the wrists. I’m nursing a bit of RSI at the moment as I have pain through the arm right into my neck on the right side. I so want to finish this cardi though that I’m (probably unwisely) pushing on through the pain which visits me all day on and off, even when not knitting.

We are currently pulling down walls and clearing out the extension so we can move our kitchen over there. The extension is basically full of junk and all my crafting stuff. Its also brining me face to face with the pure evidence I have enough yarn to open my own shop……

I’ve got the challenge of finding everything a temporary home during the work but one where I can still get at everything or I know I’ll just need stuff and not be able to access it. Any tips on compact but accessible storage gratefully received!

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So many projects so little……time?

I’m trying so very hard to produce things that make me happy and most importantly, that might make others happy but I’m struggling.

Its time to admit I just didn’t produce one of those low maintenance children this forth time around and I live in a much larger house with a bigger garden. The net result is, if I don’t devote almost ALL my time to either the toddler or the house things go to pot. The child trashes the place and the place becomes worthy of ‘A Life of Grime’

It’s making my crochet and new excitement about knitting a truly TRULY ‘guilty pleasure’….. Pretty heavy on the guilt to be honest.

The difficult thing for me is that if I’m not creating something I feel frustrated and dare I say it, depressed. There’s been some research into knitting and crochet and mental health and it’s been shown to have a good effect on both mental wellbeing and actually physical wellbeing too!

When I decided to start a blog someone told me it was a great idea but “leave the mental stuff out” I took that advice on board and I’ve tried as hard as I can to not mention ‘the mental stuff’ but more and more recently I’m feeling it is relevant.

I’ve suffered depression for a long time on and off and became very seriously unwell with that a few years ago, after a few years of deliberation and investigation I was finally diagnosed with a bi polar disorder. What that means in day to day terms is sometimes I’m super productive, I have good ideas and pursue them with unrelenting gusto but sometimes the pendulum swings the other way and I find myself as I am now, still harbouring ideas and a need to create but an mostly an inability to do so.

As you can imagine my high needs toddler combined with a house that seems to untidy itself plus those pendulum swings means, even when I’m “up” most of that time seems to be clearing away the mess that “down” left behind.

I’m hoping taking about this honestly won’t lead to a lot of unfollows of my blog. I really enjoy sharing my crochet and knitting journey and life at the yurt here and I find it very rewarding. I’m not about to make is page all about my illness, I have another blog where I talk exclusively about that. I just wanted to explain why perhaps I’ve gone off the boil a bit recently.

I have so very many things I want to do creatively and patterns I am waiting to write and share with you but I just have to wait till I have the time and the energy. I hope you will stick around till things begin to flow again.

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Commitment and cables.

I’ve been a bit quiet of late. I have been doing some crochet but not very much just working on a granny square blanket and finishing up the little dark stars rainbow cardi (it’s been ongoing since the early this year!).

I have completed a big knit throw in cream, it was a present for a newly wed couple. I didn’t get a final snap before it was wrapped and gifted but I’ve asked if perhaps they will take a photo for me to pop on my Facebook page.
Here it is nearing completion.

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It is beautifully heavy and drapes really nicely. As usual excuse the poor picture quality (and the crayon on the wall “its ‘wainbows’ mummy!”) I don’t have a fancy camera I just use my ipod or ipad.

I confess I am feeling a little less productive than usual, I still have a million ideas and projects in my head but I’m really struggling to find/make time to work on anything very often. I still love and enjoy crochet immensely but it’s been a difficult time recently and that’s impacted on my ability to create anything.

I am a quarter of a way through a Big Knit throw for my living room sofa.
This is the casting on.

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I’m using many strands of DK instead of big yarn or fabric strips. It works really well but you have to be vigilant you always pick up all the strands as you are working.

My upper middle child was recently able to collect her finished exam pieces from Graphic Design GSCE. I absolutely adore them, not just because I like the actual final result but also because I know how very hard she worked preparing and practising her ideas for the final two day exam sessions. I’m very proud of her for her commitment, passion and creativity. I asked if she would mind letting me have them to frame and put on our wall above the settee. The throw is being made in colours that will compliment her work really well.

Whilst I have been working on my sofa throw she’s put in a request a for a bed runner for her newly decorated and refitted bedroom. I’ve got this idea in my mind I want to do a Big Knit throw in cables, her ideas for the colour work to match her new room and my urge to make a cabled throw seem like a really promising combination except……. My knitting is really basic and I don’t know how to cable.

Enter my marvellous knitting nan!

We’ve been trying to schedule a visit for ages now but first she was unwell, then I had commitments, then she was unwell again and finally this weekend we managed our weekend together.

We had discussed a visit to a new yarn shop for supplies so she can knit me a new cardigan and for her to teach me how to cable so I could make the new throw.

I’m glad despite my challenging week I kept to my commitment to have her come and stay because despite it being hard work we had a really lovely day on the Sunday (huge lovages for my wonderful Husband for helping facilitate that by taking care of cooking us all a wonderful stew so I got to spend lots of time with Nan instead of the pots and pans!).

Nan completed all the seaming of a sweater she started knitting for The Little Dark Star last time she came to stay. Its taken her a while as her 80 something year old hands sometimes don’t want to comply anymore and she can only knit as and when she feels up to it.

It was a lovely moment, her finishing up the last of the sewing and then seeing the excited toddler trying it on straight away and saying how it will be “warm for the garden” and “Thank you Nanny for my jumper” I know we made a lovely memory there for us both to enjoy.

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With the sweater done Nan set about teaching me to cable. We sat hip to hip on the sofa whilst she showed me what to do, then watched as I attempted it myself. Proud to say I picked it up fairly quickly but we had a lot of lovely giggles over my mistakes (how can a person suddenly forget how to cast on? Or do a whole row of knit instead of purl?).

Here’s a little line of cable I’ve made.

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My Nan comes originally from Germany so when she knits she hold her yarn in her left hand (like crocheters do) and kind of picks it up with the right needle, whereas I knit “English style” which means I hold the yarn over on the right and wind it around for each stitch. I’ve been fascinated by her way for a long time, it looks less of a big production, faster and more like what I’m doing when I crochet so I asked her if she would mind showing me how to do it German or ‘Continental’ style. She was really chuffed I asked and was incredibly patient with helping me work it out. I kept doing my yarn overs the wrong way round, which is what most people I have taught to crochet always do when very first learning the basics. I cracked it before she left and I have to say I really love the new way of doing it. My tension is much neater but it does make my hands ache more than my usual knitting style. Nan assures me as I find my own rhythm and my muscles get used to it the ache will subside. I wish someone had taken a photo of us sat there with each other and her patiently teaching me. I’d have treasured it forever.

I think most rewarding thing is hearing Nan say how chuffed she is that “someone will be knitting like me now even after I’ve gone” I think we both sensed we had made a special kind of connection that will last long beyond the immediate moment. I know every time I knit that way I will be thinking of my Nan. Not just our recent weekend together, I shall be thinking about the mountains of knitted things she has made for me and my brood that have been made with her Continental method of working. From now on as I make things using the same technique she does, my hands will be mimicking hers and she will be part of it. If anyone notices my method and asks about it I will talk about her teaching me.

Now both my grandmothers have given me a tangible skill and memory I can invoke each time I pick up a hook or knitting needles.

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