Thursday, 31 December 2015

Mine's a pint

All I need to get is a few crackers and we're set to see in 2016.

I wish everyone a healthy and very happy new year. x

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Press ganged cats

My two sisters' cats have been voluntold* they are participating in my trial of catnip cat toys by way of all four of them receiving one for their Christmas presents. Here is Darcy (belonging to Sandy) enjoying hers!

I shall expect full reports from Georgie, Harvey and Jonesy in due course! 

Pattern for the toys is Hillary Meyer's No-Sew Catnip Mouse

*voluntold is a made up word meaning to be ordered into volunteering

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Lace snowflake jar - free crochet pattern for pretty fringed ribbon jar topper

I posted the photograph from my last blog entry in a couple of crochet forums to wish my friends there a Happy Christmas, and very flatteringly, I've been asked how I made the snowflake candle jar, so here are the details (really quick!) so you can do one yourself, there's still just about time to get one done! I'm sorry I don't have time to do a photo tutorial for it at the moment but I have tested the pattern again myself after I typed it  out to make sure it's accurate.

I made the snowflakes using Caitlin Sainio's book, 100 Snowflakes to Crochet. The instructions for the fringed lace ribbon jar topper and how to affix the snowflakes follows.

Small quantity of 3 ply linen in any colour you like (I used silver grey)
Clean and empty 360g Branston Pickle jar
12-18 inches thin ribbon in a colour of your choice
Silver coloured charm of your choice (optional)
2mm crochet hook
PVA glue
Tea light candle or LED artificial flicker candle

All instructions use UK crochet terms

ch - chain
ss - slip stitch
st - stitch
tr - treble crochet
dc - double crochet
dtr - double treble
yoh - yarn over hook

ch 56 for the 360g Branston Pickle jar, (for larger or smaller jars, you can adjust the size by adding or subtracting multiples of 8 to the foundation ch),
Use a ss into 1st ch to form a circle

Row 1
ch 3 (to count as 1st tr), 1 tr in each of next 2 ch, ch 1, *skip next ch, 1 tr in each of next 3 ch, ch 1, repeat from * to end, ss into top chain of the commencing ch 3

Row 2
Ss into top of next tr, ch 1, dc into same st, 5 ch * skip (1tr, 1 ch, 1 tr), dc into next tr, 5 ch, repeat from * all around, ss into commencing dc 

Row 3 
2 ss into 5 ch space, 1 ch, 1 dc into same 5ch space, *1 ch, 1dtr into next 5ch space, 1 ch, (1 dtr, 1 ch into same 5ch space) 4 times, 1 dc into next 5ch space, repeat from * all round, finishing with a ss into dc at commencement of row

Row 4
ss into 1ch space, ch 1, (dc into dtr, dc into 1ch space) twice, *ch 3, skip dtr, (dc into 1ch space, dc into dtr) twice, insert hook into next 1ch space, yoh, pull loop through (2 loops on hook), skip dc, insert hook into next 1ch space, yoh, pull loop through (3 loops on hook), yoh, pull loop through 3 loops (dc into dtr, dc into 1ch space) twice, repeat from * 5 times, ch 3, skip dtr, (dc into 1ch space, doc into dtr) twice, insert hook into 1ch space, yoh, pull loop through (2 loops on hook), insert hook into commencing ch, yoh, pull loop through (3 loops on hook), yoh, pull loop through 3 loops, ss into dc, fasten off. 

Weave in ends, dampen slightly and block, leaving until completely dry.

Thread ribbon through gaps in the first row, slip over top of jar, thread on your silver charm if using and tie ribbon into a bow.

Take snowflakes, put them right side down on a clean piece of paper, cover the back liberally with PVA glue, place carefully onto jar and leave to dry. The glue will become clear as it dries so this method works with any colour of snowflake. 

Add the candle to your jar, sit back and admire!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Solstice candle

Candle for the winter solstice
Love and light and other seasonal greetings for the Winter Solstice to my family, friends, customers and readers of my blog.

Quite often, I feel a bit downcast at this time of year. Christmas can sometimes feel like a huge barrier to be overcome so that Spring can arrive. The tree and lights are up; they're cheery and bright but the older I get, the more I realise that the things I really want for Christmas cannot be bought. On the bright side, I'm very much looking forward to spending Christmas day with the whole of my family; for the first time in some years, all of the Cannings brothers and sisters will be together on the day.

With the shortest day of the year being tomorrow, the 22nd, the sun will start to come back for longer and longer each day. Welcome back to the sun!

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Monday, 14 December 2015

Three blind catnip mice

Have you got a cat? Do you live in the UK? Would you like to be a product tester for one of the above little mice cat toys?

They've been crocheted with two strands of very strong 100% mercerised cotton and then filled with polyester stuffing. In the middle of the stuffing, I've included a "teabag" containing approximately half a teaspoon of organically grown dried catnip. Each mouse measures a little over two inches long (excluding tail). They've been created using Stephanie Meyer's No-sew Catnip Mouse pattern on Ravelry.

Leave me a comment here on the blog (not on Facebook) with your e-mail address and I'll get in touch. First three requests from people who live in the UK will get one of the toys.

Anyone who reads my blog and who lives in the UK can get one of these sent to them free. After your cat has had it for a couple of weeks, I'd just like some honest feedback on how the toy withstood the worst your cat could throw at it!

Monday, 23 November 2015

20% off all beads! Winter sale!

Use code WINTER20 in my my Etsy bead shop for a massive 20% off all items for this week only! Offer expires on Saturday, 28th November. Minimum purchase two sets.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Chunky crochet fingerless mittens - free top down pattern

Free pattern for fingerless gloves
Here is the free pattern, tutorial and instructions for my chunky crochet fingerless mittens. I have made mine in Katia Azteca in a gorgeous red (shade no 7809). Azteca is classed as an aran weight yarn but you can use any chunkyish yarn as long as the gauge works out as 14 stitches and 8 rows in treble equals four inches.

A good suggested substitute yarn is Rico Creative Melange Chunky which crochets up to the same gauge.

The pattern really is quite easy to do. Most of the stitches are just UK trebles. The ribbing effect also uses trebles but instead of ordinary trebles, we use front post trebles (fprt) alternated with back post trebles (bptr). The thumb and shaping might look daunting for beginners but I walk you through that bit using detailed instructions and photographs so you know what it should look like.

I think this is a perfect pattern for a beginner looking to expand their stitch repertoire. If you can do chains, slip stitches and trebles, all you have to do before trying this pattern is to look up how to do the front and back post trebles and familiarise yourself with 2trtog for shaping. An explanation of how to do 2trtog is included in the pattern abbreviations below.

Here is a link to a video guide of how to do front post treble (FPtr)
NB, the video is made using American terms which is why they could it a front post double but don't worry about that, just follow the video and do it exactly as its shown.

Here is a link to a video guide of how to do back post treble (BPtr)

We're making these mittens top down, so we start at the fingers end and finish at the wrist

All instructions use UK crochet terminology


60 grams Katia Azteca (108 metres/119 yards)
5.5mm hook


14 stitches and 8 rows in trebles = 4 inches

ABBREVIATIONS (UK terminology)

ch chain
ss slip stitch
st stitch
tr treble
FPtr front post treble
BPtr back post treble
yoh yarn over hook

Here is an explanation for 2trtog:
The stitch is worked as follows over two sts and joins two trs at the top to reduce the stitch count by one
yoh, insert hook into first st, yoh, pull yarn through first st (3 loops on hook), yoh, pull yarn through first two loops (2 loops on hook) yoh, insert hook into second st, yoh, pull yarn through st (4 loops on hook), yoh, pull yarn through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yoh, pull loop through remaining 3 loops (1 loop on hook)


Foundation row: ch 26, ss into first ch to form a circle

Row 1: ch 3 (to count as first tr), tr in each ch all round, ss into top ch of beginning 3 ch (26 trs)

Row 2: ch 2 (counts as first tr), FPtr in next st, *BPtr in next st, FPtr in next st, repeat from * to end, ss into top ch of beginning 2 ch (26 sts)

Row 3: Repeat row 2

Row 4: ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr in each st all round, 1 tr into st at the base of 3 ch, ss into top ch of beginning 3 ch (27 trs)

Row 5: ch 8,

 skip next 2 sts, ss into next st to form a semi-circle,

ch 3 (counts as first tr),

tr in each of next 23 stitches, 1 tr into base of st where semi-circle starts (25 trs),

1 tr in each ch of 8 ch, (photo below indicates where first tr should go)

(the photo below shows what it looks like half way through the 8 trs)

(the photo below shows what it looks like when you've completed all 8 trs and where to put the next ss)

ss into top of beginning 3 ch (33 trs)

Row 6: ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr in next 27 trs, 2trtog, 1 tr in each of next 3 sts, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (32 sts)

Row 7: ch 3 (counts as 1 tr) , 1 tr in next 27 sts, 2trtog, 1 tr in each of next 2 sts, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (31 sts)

Row 8: ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr in next 27 sts, 2trtog, 1 tr in next st, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (30 sts)

Row 9: ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr in next 27 sts, 2trtog, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (29 sts)

Row 10: ch 3, 1 tr in each of next 26 sts, 2trtog, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (28 sts)

Row 11: ch 3, 1 tr in each of next 25 sts, 2trtog, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (27 sts)

Row 12: 2 ch, yoh, insert hook in next st, yoh, pull loop through st (3 loops on hook), yoh, pull yarn through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yoh, pull yarn through 2 loops (counts as 2trtog), 1 tr in each of next 12 sts, 2trtog, 1 tr in each of next 9 sts, 2trtog, ss in top of beginning 2trtog (24 sts)

Row 13: 3 ch (counts as 1 tr), 1 tr in all sts all round, ss in top ch of beginning 3 ch (24 trs)

Row 14: 2 ch, FPtr in next st *BPtr in next st, FPtr in next st repeat from * to end, ss in top ch of beginning 2 ch (24 sts)

Row 15: repeat row 14

Row 16: repeat row 14, fasten off and weave in ends

Both mittens are the same, make two. 

Edit: There is now a matching chunky ribbed scarf pattern 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Warmth and sickness

There's nothing like a reassuringly full log pile to make you feel cozy when the weather turns a bit colder.

I'm having a quiet day indoors, staying warm and keeping an eye on Missy our dog who has been poorly since Tuesday night with an upset stomach. We're all tired as during the nights there have been many urgent dashes to the back door. On Wednesday, I slept on the sofa with her cos it was nearer and gave MTM the chance to get some sleep. 

So far, she's been to the vet twice, she's had an injection and we give her some paste-like substance, the doggy equivalent of kaolin and morphine. We're all hopeful she'll be recovered by the end of the weekend.

For anyone reading this in France, I struggle to know what to say about the chilling events there overnight, my thoughts are with your nation, my tears will mix with yours for all the lives so senselessly cut short and affected by terrorism's brutal hand. xxx

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Apparently it's still summer ....

I noticed a late season borage seedling flowering its heart out in my garden today, bless it. Here's some of the said flowers on a long tall glass of Pimms with Italian lemonade.

I may well be crocheting hot water bottle covers for winter but if it's OK for herbs to pretend it's still summer ... so can I .... slainte!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Hot Water Bottle covers

Hot water bottle hand crocheted for my mums birthday

I've put aside all my WIPs this week and used my crochet time (mainly in the evenings) to make two hot water bottle covers. This one is for my mum whose birthday it is on Sunday, the family is getting together to see her and have a meal out tomorrow.

The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK in acrylic and the colours are the vintage ones that Stylecraft launched earlier in the year which I bought on Yarn Shop Day; Sage, Storm Blue and Parma Violet. They look really nice together and for contrast, I've teamed them with Petrol.

Vintage yarn colours of Stylecraft Special DK plus Petrol

I used a 3.5mm hook instead of the 4mm recommended for this yarn, I wanted a firmer fabric for the covers. The squares are standard grannies with one chain in the corner. They're joined together using double crochet* and the top is stripes of trebles*.

The other is for my dad, more masculine colours for him; parchment, walnut, gold and mocha. He already had one of the books that I bought him as a present recently and so this is a nice replacement for that.

Dads hand crocheted hot water bottle cover

I liked some I saw online which were made from standard granny squares crocheted together. Most of the ones I found with patterns relies on you rolling the hot water bottle up and inserting it in through the top or had button fastenings. I couldn't imagine having buttons on a hot water bottle when trying to warm my feet, I think I'd find them annoying and rolling up a hot water bottle is quite difficult to do for me, let alone my elderly parents. Mum has arthritis in her hands and my dad isn't that good at fiddly stuff any more.

I decided a flap opening would be better and simpler for them Buttons aren't necessary as the fit is snug and the snugness will hold the flap in place. As none of the patterns were exactly what I wanted, I made it up as I went and I'm hoping the recipients will like them!

I'm doing one for me now ... have a happy (and warm) Halloween weekend!

EDITED: A pattern for my Crochet pattern for hot water bottle cover is now available to purchase (just click the underlined link).

*Using UK crochet terminology

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Homemade turnip soup

From these pulled fresh from my vegetable patch ....
add some onions, potatoes, stock, herbs, cream and seasoning and then you get ...
homemade cream of turnip soup! Delicious for lunch on a rainy Saturday afternoon!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Another building weekend

The greenhouse is really coming along! Here's MTM adding the finishing touches to the frame.

We got the glazing, vents and door finished in the early part of the week. MTM went back to work on Wednesday, I continued with some bubblewrap insulation and fitted some shelving and staging (photos of the interior to follow soon).

More materials were delivered on Friday for a weekend of building work.

We've been paving inside the greenhouse yesterday and will hopefully finish today. I couldn't resist taking this picture when I saw the conjunction of the sticker and a particularly wonderful builder's bum! (Click the pic to see a larger version so you can read the sticker ....)

Monday, 5 October 2015

Gardening all weekend long!

The weather has been lovely for days and days here, it was great that it extended into the weekend when I was planting bulbs, these are Iris Reticulata which will flower in the Spring and hopefully look pretty with the Violas that are going in at the same time.

However it's all gone down hill today, drizzly rain here at the moment ... just in time for the arrival of the greenhouse in a couple of days time. Let's hope it cheers up again!

I also planted some dry snowdrops in this bed I cleared under the Willow tree. It was just a mess of weeds and straggly grass. I know dry snowdrops don't establish well but by the time I got it all cleared, it was way too late to buy any in the green earlier in the year.  I lost count of the number of dandilions I forked up, fortunately the soil is really good and so I was able to get out pretty much all of the roots. It is my fond hope that some of the bulbs will take and naturalise this area.

I've got some Cyclamen Coum tubers (for Spring colour) and some Cyclamen Hederifolium plants to go in there too. The Cyclamen Hederifolium plants are flowering right now so a bit of instant colour. I haven't got a big enough budget to completely plant it up, For now, nine will make a nice splash of flowering and I'm hoping if I leave them alone, they will also self seed and spread out to create a carpet of colour.

I have plans to put some shade loving herbaceous plants in too, hopefully I will be able to split clumps and take root cutting to make the most of my budget. Some will be grown from seed next year. Got several on my shopping list!

Whilst I was getting on with the nicer side of gardening, planting and dreaming of future flowers, MTM was concreting the top of the steps which is a bit of a convergence point. It joins up the steps coming down from the house, the slope coming down from the top gravel garden, the new steps going down into the bottom half of the garden and the timber decking area where the patio furniture lives. I will do photographs of that when the slabs are down.

Can you see the timber mowing edge I have added where the bed meets (what I laughingly call) my lawn. This year, the moles haven't really left me me much left to mow! DON'T get  me started on moles .... I have asked next door's cats to catch them for me, I often find decapitated mice which they thoughfully leave on the path for me. Mice do dig up cyclamen tubers so they're doing their bit on that front but the moles are far more troublesome ..... get to it kitties!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Two totally unrelated matters

First, this is a picture of my latest crochet WIP, a tablecloth for my patio table. I'm using Frank O'Randle's Rings of Change pattern which is on Ravelry. Every row is different on it so it's quite a challenge. I'm using two strands of Scheepjesw Maxi crochet cotton and I'm really enjoying making it.

I've adapted it slightly. I needed a hole in the middle for the parasol to go through so I omitted some earlier rounds and started later on with a twenty chain hole. I've also missed out some rounds later on where there were 3-D dragon scales going on because a tablecloth really needs to lie totally flat. The scales would've been right in the red wine glass region. The thought of spilling wine that I could so easily drink is slightly shocking, so I've repeated some of the earlier flat rounds and then gone back to the pattern for the later rounds. It's a little ruffled around the edges as you can see in the second pic but I will be stretch blocking it so it'll lie flat when it's finished.

I don't think it's going to be completed before colder weather arrives with a vengeance but you never know. At least I'll be ready for next year and maybe with some matching cushions!

Another thing that is late and the totally unrelated matter mentioned in the title to this bloggage is that my greenhouse is finally arriving next Wednesday. We didn't realise when we ordered it that it was on a four week delivery .... we have ordered three greenhouses in the past and none of them took this long. It's a bog standard size and finish so I would've thought a stock item but unfortunately not. I have been impatiently ticking off the days and putting all my tender cuttings in the house at night.  MTM is taking some time off to help me put it up - another reason to hope this fine weather lasts!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Moon shadows and mushrooms

So, who else got up in the middle of the night to see the ... (take a deep breath) lunar eclipse blood red supermoon? Or perhaps you have more stamina than me and you just stayed up?

The above is a really brilliant photo taken by one of my Facebook friends, Tracy Green, in her garden, in the cold, using her I-phone and a pair of binoculars, dressed only in her PJs.

This one was taken by MTM at about the same time to show scale. When we walked Missy before bed, the moon was so full and round and bright, we were casting moon shadows. It's no wonder before we had astronomy predicting these events people got frightened by the moon slowly disappearing and turning red without any warning.

I like both photographs but I think Tracy's is really super. She also takes marvellous shots of various fungi she comes across on her dog walks, she often posts fabulous close ups of all kinds of mushrooms. Of course, it's an ideal time of year for that though I think (hope) she gets dressed for those expeditions ...!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Still summertime in my kitchen

Last cut flowers from my Calendula border. The variety was Art Shades, which produced quite tall plants. After some breezy days in August, they flopped about in drunken heaps, still flowering their hearts out. I should know better, I never stake plants, I am far too lazy; next year, I shall buy a packet of a shorter growing variety.

Falling over aside, they've still been lovely but this week, the foliage started to look a bit mildewed and so, even though they were still flowering well, they've been cleared out of the way and today, I've been mainly planting Narcissi tete a tete to replace them.

Daffodils don't look pretty in the bags, but they'll be lovely in the Springtime. I had hundreds of Tete a Tete in our garden at Little Barn, these are the first I have planted in our garden here. With Camassia, Cyclamen, bare rooted Wallflowers and Snowdrops on order waiting to arrive, it's time to admit Autumn is here.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Flight of Fancy Peacock wrap finished!

Peacock Crochet-A-Long 2015

My #scheepjeswol  #scheepjesCAL2015 Flight of Fancy #teampeacock wrap is finished and blocked! During the week, I tried to describe my favourite way of wearing it to the Group but in the end a picture is better than words and here I am wearing it. I'm really pleased with it and have really enjoyed joining in with the discussions during the Crochet-A-Long, I'm definitely interested in doing another one.

The second photo is a bit shady but shows where I put the shawl pin a bit better.

A rear view showing how it looks from the back. I'm not doing a Morecombe and Wise impersonation (though some more sunshine would be nice), I am actually trying to flick my hair in a cavalier manner but I ended up just looking a bit camp! 

And of course naughty 603 trying to hide the shawl pin and misbehaving as usual! 

Monday, 31 August 2015

First produce

Just pulled these from the vegetable plot, the very first radishes. These are the only ones from an entire row that survived the over-zealous pigeon thinning! I'm sure they will be delicious added to the salad tonight! I'm very excited to eat my very first home grown produce since 2005!

The majority of the fence got finished off yesterday, we were rained off with a couple of showers so lost a couple of hours. It just needs the side facing the road to be creosoted (next dry day) as the side facing the garden was pre-done before we put the boards up, it's very high to do from a ladder so it was safer to do it before fixing. There a little capping to go on the top as well which MTM will do one evening when it's dry.

Today has been soooooo rainy here, apart from Missy-walking and radish picking, I've stayed indoors. Quite a difference from Saturday. We couldn't keep on having dry bank holidays could we ... this is England, after all!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Tea drinking on the patio ... I wish

You know, some people, if they had a nice seating area like this, they might be tempted to spend August Bank Holiday weekend actually sitting in it. You could read the paper with a nice cup of tea, eat lunch al fresco with some Pimms (or beer depending on which Doran you are). It's a nice spot to watch the sunset whilst eating bar-b-qued foodstuffs. That's a good way to spend a fine Saturday at the end of August.

But no, this is what the Dorans do with Bank Holiday weekends, they put up fences! I was doing the creosoting and holding the other end of various things. MTM was doing the clever fiddly bits with saw, spirit level and a screw gun.

Oh well, at least there was a mug of tea. Drinking it on a building site isn't quite as relaxing. Maybe one day ...

Friday, 28 August 2015

Just taken my Justin bracelet off

Late night at Holmfirth Picturedrom yesterday watching Justin Currie. What a great venue and a brilliant performance. Justin has got such good stagecraft from playing in a larger band, the sound was really good and he has a great connection with the audience.

I've had to cut off my paper bracelet as I'm about to have a shower, I slept in it last night and don't really want to take it off. I am not used to such late nights, we don't go out nearly often enough! It's gone 9am the next day and I've only just got up! Normally we're up and about between 6 and 7am.  It's about an hour and forty minute drive to Holmfirth from our home so we didn't get home til nearly 1am and then it was ages before I got to sleep as I was still so wired from the gig, buzzing with all the songs and hoarse from shouting and singing along.

There are pictures and comments by other members of the audience on The Opposite View group on Facebook. Anyone with an interest in Del Amitri or Justin Currie can join. My phone is definitely of the unsmart variety, all it's good for is phone calls and texts so I'll leave it to them to fill you in on the details!

A fantastic start to the Bank Holiday weekend. We're putting up the fabled fence, weather permitting. The timber arrived yesterday. Whatever you're up to, hope you have a good time!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Garden progresses ... really close to getting that greenhouse!

It finally feels like I'm doing some real gardening instead of just working on the structure of the garden. Vegetable seedlings have been popping up but I noticed they were getting pulled out by the birds (pigeons I think) and so I've had to put some makeshift netting over them and the second lot of seeds are doing much better without the birds over-thinning!

However, there's still a little way to go before the greenhouse can be put up. Last weekend I was sealing two garden walls and then painting them with masonry paint. The colour was supposed to be sea green but looks more turquoise; it's much bluer than I imagined from the shade card but I've decided it can stay as it looks so nice with the brown of the sleepers.

MTM has put up some trellis against the wall. The wall actually goes all the way up to the top of the trellis but I decided not to paint it all, too much ladder work! The top will be covered with climbers I'm going to put in the raised bit under the trellis. 

Once the greenhouse is put up, the raised bed won't have much space around it for maintenance so I shall have an incentive to keep trim! The soil was some that got displaced when MTM built the base and has since got contaminated with chunks of limestone and rubble in it which needs to be picked out (job for me!) Bloody builders! ;-) Luckily the soil is quite good, not too clayey or too sandy. Dig in some compost and it'll be good to go. 

The scabby fence at the top is going to be replaced. Although the retaining wall is really quite high on the garden side, it's only three or four feet tall where it fronts the road and sometimes people peer over which I find disconcerting (and they're usually embarrassed when I spot them!) So that's going to be replaced with something taller. We did discuss putting the greenhouse up before the fence but you just know that a hammer or nail gun will get dropped onto it if we do it that way round so there's still a little time to wait! 

As long as it's up before the first frosts so I can overwinter cuttings, I shall be a happy little gardener!