Tuesday, 21 April 2015

WIPs increasing instead of decreasing

I have finished one of my Works In Progress! It's always such a feeling of achievement when you've made something you're really happy with. This cushion cover on the left, uses short row garter stitch was a joy to make using Sirdar Crofter DK in Thatcher 0065, the short rows and variegated yarn creates the interesting zig zag effect without any changing of colours - s'easy! The pattern I used is the Zig Zag cushion cover from Deramores, you get three other patterns with it so it's good value, I'm definitely tempted to make the Log Cabin one as well.

So my list of WIPs is decreasing ... wrong (of course). I have started not one but two more! I have zero discipline, I know the key to finishing items off is not to buy new yarn and then I won't be tempted to start anything else but just look at this lovely two ply from Lamington Lass!

These squares are going to be joined as I go along and will become yet another lacy scarf (I love lacy scarves!) I've also started an orange one in a different style but not much to see on that one yet.

On top of these new projects, I still have to sort out the edging to this hexagonal version of the rainbow spiral blanket,  I've done this one in more subdued colours so it can be used in my lounge and I wanted a different edging to the hexagonal one to the squares but I've used too many stitches, specially along the half hexagons and so it's gone a bit wrong.

I kept going on it telling myself (like I did when the edging went wrong on the square one) that blocking would take care of it but with every row, it got more and more wobbly. In the end I had to come out of denial and rip the border out.

May all your edges be straight and true. Talk again soon!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

No more extreme hoovering for me!

Crocheted lacy tablecloth

I've recently had cause to pause and think about how precious eyesight is. Here's a tablecloth that I crocheted with mercerised cotton when I was in my twenties (a long time ago now!) I've always been shortsighted but with glasses, my corrected vision (before I had to start wearing vari-focals), was excellent.

I made this tablecloth with teeny steel crochet hooks, either the 0.75 or 1.00mm photographed below, the stitches are so tiny on it, I doubt it was the 1.25mm.

Since I started becoming long-sighted in my forties, I've needed different glasses for reading and distance, the solution to constantly changing glasses is a pair of vari-focals. What I've gained in convenience, has been lost to a some extent as to how well I can see very small typeprint (or very small stitches!) These days, I find the smallest hook I can comfortably use is 1.75mm so I doubt I could make something as intricate as this any more. These days I just marvel at what I used to take for granted.

When I took that week off to do gardening, I was doing some quite strenuous work, digging over, levelling and raking a part of the garden that had become weed infested when it had all those logs on it from the tree felling we had done. This in preparation to reseeding it with grass seed. One lunchtime, I came in from doing that and suddenly there appeared in front of my right eye what I thought was a small spider dangling down from my hair that had hitched a ride from the gardening.

I'm not frightened of spiders at all really but that doesn't mean I want them cavorting about at will in my hair and face. I ran my fingers through my hair trying to remove it but it was still there; looking more closely, it seemed to be actually on my glasses so I took them off ...still there, rubbed my eyes .... still there. Now it looked more like a little circle with irregular edges and it moved about quite a bit like it was floating on the surface of my eye, if I tried to look directly at it, it darted off. I looked and looked in the mirror but couldn't see anything at all in my eye, neither could MTM, it didn't feel like there was anything in there but I could definitely see something and it was blimmin' distracting.

When I went to bed that night, when I turned the light off, I noticed streaks of light flashing down on the periphery of my vision on the right hand side like tiny shooting stars one at a time.

I made an appointment to see the optician again, fortunately he had only just taken pictures of the back of my eye and pressure testing etc so had something to compare with before this thing appeared. He warned me on the phone not to drive as he was going to take a really close look at my eye by giving me eyedrops to dilate my pupil. MTM took me into town and I was there for ages while he examined the eye very closely. He confirmed there was nothing in my eye but diagnosed partial posterior vitreous detachment. Apparently it's quite common amongst people in their early 50s and is VERY common amongst those over 80. It isn't impairing my vision as the thing I'm seeing is only the outside of the detachment which looks like a very thin hairline in an oval.

Over time, it could well lessen or become two smaller "floaters".

The optician has warned me that an individual who gets a PVD is more prone - in the next few weeks - to a more serious condition which is a retinal tear. He's given me a list of symptoms to look out for: increased floaters appearing in my eyes as suddenly as this one, instead of intermittent flashing, the flashing becomes constant or a greyish "curtain" appears over one of my eyes. If I get any of those symptoms, it must be attended to immediately, if it's left untreated you can lose vision or become blind.

Hence my pondering my eyesight, never will I take it for granted again.

Strenuous activity can make a tear more likely and he's warned me to avoid extreme exercise for the next few weeks. We discussed my normal day to day activities in order to minimise my risk, he's advised me not to cut the grass any more (our lawn slopes quite steeply so it is quite hard work. MTM is going to take over responsibility for that (I just KNOW he won't do it properly, sigh!)

Apparently activities where I'm likely to fall over like ski-ing are out (that's the rest of the weekend ruined then!!!!) The thing to avoid is jolting to the head so no headbanging either (I have no concerts booked for next few weeks so we're safe there), he also said dancing, weightlifting and bungy jumping should be avoided (so that's NEXT weekend ruined as well!!!!!)

I tried to claim I found hoovering, dusting, making the bed, ironing and loading the dishwasher all very strenuous and please could he tell my husband that he was to do that for me for the next few weeks but for some reason, I wasn't believed ....

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Back to work ... or is it?

Like many people do, I tagged on a few extra days to the Easter bank holiday and was lucky with some really lovely weather to do some gardening tidying up. I managed to catch some kind of cold lurgy which took the edge off it a bit but now MTM has caught it, I've recovered! Get well soon dear!

But this week I'm back to work, beadmaking in my studio. Here's the view from my "office", bird feeding stations with sunflower seeds, thistle seeds and peanuts. The robins, chaffinchs, thrushes, blackbirds and tits all visit regularly and I love to watch them.

I got the radio tuned to Planet Rock and I sing along to the tunes I know, it has to be said that sometimes this does scare the birds off.

On nice days, Missy keeps me company outdoors, she has a cushion outside the studio which she lays on when she's feeling lazy, sometimes she has a chew, but quite often she goes exploring in the garden, sniffing the sniffs and chasing off squirrels and pigeons.

I don't think this can really be classed as work but as people pay me money for the beads I make, I've come to realise, I am a very lucky lady!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Lacy Infinity Scarf - printable PDF version now available

I am so pleased with the amount of traffic the blog has been getting from Ravelry as a result of my free Lacy Infinity Scarf pattern (over 600 in just a couple of days!!!) and all the lovely comments here and on Ravelry. Thanks so much!

I've had messages asking for a printable version of it and I'm pleased to say I've now got this done, just click on the link below for a 7 page PDF

Printable PDF version of Sooz Jewels Lacy Infinity Scarf (1.1MB)

Rather foolishly, I have managed to lose the messages in Ravelry that asked for it so am hoping those people will check here for it, apologies, I didn't realise I had to save any that were just to me personally rather than published against the design (I live and learn!)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Lacy infinity scarf - free crochet pattern

Free pattern for infinity or moebius scarf

This lacy infinity scarf I made is a great project for using up small leftover balls of 4 ply yarn, It can be doubled and worn as a cowl

Wear as a cowl by doubling round neck twice

The yarn I used for the Aqua Blue section was hand-dyed and supplied by LamingtonLass on Etsy in her Mermaid colourway, the green was from my stash left over from a pair of socks and I cannot recall where I got it unfortunately but any 4 ply or sock weight yarn will work.

If you'd like to make one of these yourself, here's how I did it

  • 25g (approx 106 yard) each of two colours of 4 ply yarn called Colour A and Colour B
  • 3mm hook
  • Tapestry needle to weave in ends
  • Blocking pins
ABBREVIATIONS (all in UK crochet terminology)
  • ch - chain
  • ss - slip stitch
  • dc - double crochet
  • tr - treble crochet
  • st - stitch
  • dtr - double treble
  • dtrSpan - 2 dtr spanning two fans, see ** below for a step by step explanation of how to work this stitch
  • rs - right side

3 pattern repeats is equivalent to four inches after blocking but gauge is not critical, you can adjust length as indicated in the pattern


Foundation: ch 217,  ss into the beginning chain (indicated in photograph above) to make a big circle. Try it on to make sure you can put it on and then easily loop in around your head again to double it up. If you cannot, increase the length of the chain by multiples of 8 before ss.

Round 1:

Ch 3, then work 2 tr into the same stitch (indicated in photograph above).

*(ch 2, skip 3 ch, 1 dc into next ch, ch 2, skip 3 chain, 5 tr into next st) repeat from * until 7 unworked chs remain (photograph above indicates what the work looks like when 4 repeats have been completed

Above photograph shows what work looks like with 7 unworked chs remain.

2 ch, skip 3 ch, dc into next ch, 2ch, 2 tr into same first st at the beginning of the round (indicated by the tapestry needle above) ss into top of initial ch 3 (indicated by the tapestry needle below)

Round 2:

Ch 5 (to count as 1dtr and 1ch), dtr into next st (indicated above), ch1

Now we're going to work 2 dtrs joined together at the top spanning the end of the first fan and the beginning of the next fan (abbreviated to dtrSpan). Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds! Here's how you do it.

**yrh twice, insert hook into next st (indicated above), pull up loop (4 loops on hook), (yrh, pull through two loops) twice (2 loops on hook) yrh twice, skip (2ch, 1dc 2ch), insert hook into the next st (indicated below)

yrh twice pull loop through st (5 loops on hook) (yrh, pull through two loops) twice yrh pull through the remaining 3 loops (you have just completed the dtrSpan stitch

The photograph above shows what your own should look like at this stage.

(1ch, 1 dtr in next st) 3 times, 1 ch. Repeat from **, the photograph above shows what your work will look like once you have completed several fans. Continue repeating until you get to the stage below where there is one last dtrSpan to complete.

On the last dtrSpan, you will work into the top of a tr you made at the start of the previous round as indicated in the photograph above with a tapestry needle.

Ch 1, dtr in next st, ch 1  and then ss into the 4th chain of the 5 ch you made at the start of this round. (Photograph above shows after the ss has been made).

Round 3:
*(5 ch, skip 1 ch, dc in next st) repeat from * all the way round until you get back to the start of the round. Instead of a dc into the base of the first loop, make a ss into the place indicated by the tapestry needle below and then fasten off leaving an end to weave in later.

One half of the Colour A work has been completed. Turn your work upside down, make a loop in the Colour A yarn and then with rs of work facing, pull the loop through any one of the chain spaces at the base of the fans (one of these is indicated in the photograph below with a tapestry needle).

Follow the pattern reworking round 1 beginning with 3 ch. Continue on to work round 2 and 3, fasten off Colour A.

The photograph above indicates what your work will look like when you've done that  it looks a bit wrinkly at this stage but don't worry, blocking will take care of that when we've finished the other half of the scarf.

Using Colour B, start another separate piece of lacework, work rounds 1, 2 and 3. Turn the work upside down as before but only work rounds 1 and 2 this time; we're going to use round 3 to join the two pieces of work together. With right side facing, offer up the Colour B piece of work to Colour A, it should look like the photograph above.

(*Ch 2 then insert hook into corresponding 5ch sp as indicated above with yarn to the right, yrh, pull the loop through the 5ch sp and the loop on the hook, ch 2, skip ch, dc into top of dtr.)

Repeat from * all the way round joining the two pieces together, the photograph above shows what your work will look like after several joins have been worked. To finish the round off, instead of a dc, work a ss into the final st.

Weave in ends using the tapestry needle but don't finally cut off the last inch or two until after blocking.

Thoroughly wet the scarf using warm water and then squeeze (not wring) excess water out. Fold the scarf in half lengthwise onto a towel laid over spare pieces of carpeting or a blocking board. Using blocking pins, pick up the top and bottom loops of the scarf on each side and gently stretching pin the scarf out. The photograph above shows the amount of stretching that will typically be required.

The above picture shows the scarf completely pinned out. When the item is completely dry, remove blocking pins and finish trimming loose ends. You may find where the scarf was folded when damp, there is a crease at both ends; these can be relaxed by rubbing inbetween warm fingers.

You can see what a difference blocking makes!

Now just put your scarf on and wear! Here's what it looks like doubled:

Printable PDF version of pattern and phototutorial

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Finally got to see Rival Sons ... big thanks to Rock City, Nottingham!

Drum kit Rival sons at the Leadmill Sheffield November 2014

Remember how we missed seeing Rival Sons at the Leadmill last year cos I hurt my leg and couldn't go (thanks to mate, Steve for permission to use one of his pictures). Well, luckily for us, they're in the UK at the moment, we got tickets for their gig at Rock City and that's where we were last night.

Drum kit belonging to Rival Sons Rock City Nottingham 2015

Thanks to Steve again for one of his pictures, just look at those Orange amps, MTM says he hasn't seen any like those since the 70s. Apparently they don't make them any more, goodness knows where a relatively new band like Rival Sons got them from, they must've been scouring secondhand shops and Ebay for years! MTM says they're well known to provide fantastic reverb on the backline and he wants to know if they're 1975 vintage twin Mark IIs (made in Huddersfield I'm told).

The guitarist, Scott Holiday got a great sound out of them, lots of reverb and distortion. During Open My Eyes it sounded like Tommy Bolin was reincarnated. Manifest Destiny is a masterpiece and a great showpiece for Scott's guitar. As big Robin Trower fans, both MTM and I could hear Bridge of Sighs but Scott has invented a blues guitar sound that's exclusively his own.

Jay Buchanan, the lead singer, WHAT a voice and stage presence, he's just mesmerising, he sings like someone has cast a spell on him; very very focused. His performance was brilliant. Definitely a unique talent but I hope he won't mind if I briefly mention some comparisons which came to mind ... Michael Hutchence (INXS) for stagecraft and physical appearance and Jim Morrison (Doors) for sheer charisma ... in fact imagine every great frontman to a band and then know that, in my opinion, this guy is as good, if not better, than any of them.

I was a little concerned before we went along because I read a couple of negative reviews of their Liverpool show but I needn't've worried, They were on stage for two hours and rocked Rock City to the rafters. One of the best gigs I've been to by a bunch of exceedingly cool dudes. When we got home, we were too wired to sleep and so we drank wine, played their albums and relived the concert into the early hours.

I love the fact that Jay says "Nottingham" exactly the same way as Darren on Planet Rock does when he does the Travel and Traffic report. Us Brits pronounce it "Notting-um" Americans say it the same way it's written so that final syllable is "ham". I love an American accent particularly when they're saying British place names, it makes us sound more exotic than we actually are!

I know the band can't see the audience unless the lights are up but I swear Jay made eye contact with me personally on at least 5 different occasions, such a thrill!

My own three word review (more of that later) for Rival Sons' performance  at Rock City is:
"Exceeded all expectations"

MTM's three word review:
"Dangerous, edgy, primeaval"

A quick shout out to the London Souls who supported, a guitarist who looks a bit like Jimi Hendrix and a drummer. Amazing sound from just two guys with some really well crafted songs. Definitely want to hear more from them!

Due to my leg episode, it was nearly a year since I last went to a gig but we also got to see Robin Trower at the Engine Shed, Lincoln only last week. You don't go to a gig for months and then two favourite bands come along in a fortnight!

The Robin Trower concert was a real treat, we'd got our tickets as soon as they were issued, then a few weeks later, it was announced that Joanne Shaw Taylor would be supporting him and we couldn't believe our luck - a double bill so far as we were concerned. Joanne played for around three quarters of an hour; she did a fabulous set, we really want to see her separately to experience a full a set so that's on the wish list next time she's headlining anywhere near us. I even got Joanne Shaw Taylor's autograph on my ticket as she was selling merchandise on her table herself.

Joanne Shaw Taylor autograph on Robin Trower ticket

Robin was of course, also absolutely brilliant. We worked out that it's 35 years since we last saw him live, in fact Robin Trower, Leeds Uni in 1980 was the first gig that MTM and I went to together, the Victims of the Fury tour when the wonderful James Dewar was still alive. It was so nice to complete the circle but I'd like to think Robin (despite having just turned 70) will tour a few more years and we'll get the opportunity to see him again soon. A fantastic night out.

A couple of days after we saw Robin and Joanne, my favourite Planet Rock presenter, Darren Redick asked on their Facebook page for a three word review of any concerts we'd been to during the weekend so I added mine "Fabulous Blues Pairing", he read it out on air and said he could believe it was, I was so proud!