Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Crocheted trailing plant pot hanger / holder

Here is my latest free crochet pattern, to make a macrame inspired trailing plant hanger/holder. Instructions are written out row by row but for chart readers, two charts are provided towards the end of this blog posting.

It is quite difficult to print patterns out from my blog. The blog version will always be free and available to consult here but for those who want a print-ready version, a PDF may be purchased for a modest sum from my Etsy shop.

Pattern is written in UK crochet terms throughout.

SIZE

To fit a pot with a diameter of 12.5-15cm (5-6 inches) and similar height

Overall length measures approximately 59cm (23.5 inches) from tip of hanging loop to the bottom of the pot when displaying a 12.5cm (5 inches) potted plant

ABBREVIATIONS

  • rs- right side
  • ch(s) - chain(s)
  • rs - right side
  • ch(s) – chain(s)
  • sp - space
  • st - stitch
  • ss - slip stitch
  • dc - double crochet
  • tr(s) - treble crochet(s)
  • rep - repeat
  • beg - beginning
  • rem – remaining

GAUGE

21 sts and 10 rows, worked in tr = four inches square  NB: if your gauge square is larger, you may find you will need a second ball of yarn

MATERIALS

  • 1 x 50g ball of Scheepjes Catona or equivalent 4-ply weight cotton/cotton blend*
  • Size 4mm hook (or whatever size is required to achieve gauge)
  • Darning needle to weave in ends

*Other suggested yarns: Scheepjes Linen Soft, Drops Safran, Rowan Summerlite

INSTRUCTIONS 

If you are familiar with reading charts, Chart 1 (at the end of this document) covers rows 1-9.

Round 1 (rs) 

Make a slip knot and place on hook, ch 8, ss into first ch to form a ring, do not turn on this or subsequent rows, the rs faces you throughout the project

Round 2 

ch 1 (does not count as a st), 20 dc into ring, ss into first dc

Round 3

ch 6 (counts as 1 tr, 3 ch), *skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 3, rep from * 8 times, skip 1 st, ss into 3rd ch of beg chs

Round 4

ch 3 (counts as a tr), 3 trs into base of same ch, *skip 3 ch sp, dc in next st, skip 3 ch, (4 tr, 3 ch, 4 tr) in next st, repeat from * 3 times, skip 3 ch, dc in next st, skip 3 ch, 4 trs into same st as initial trs, 3 ch, ss into top of beg 3 ch

NB At the end of Round 4, the chs you need to ss into the top of may be partially hidden due to the number of trs worked into the same st. The darning needle in the photograph shows the correct place to work the ss.

Round 5

ch 4 (counts as 1 tr, 1 ch), (skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 1)  4 times,  *(tr, 3ch, tr) in 3 ch sp, ch 1, tr in next st, ch 1, (skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 1)  4 times, rep from * 3 times, (tr, 3 ch, tr) in 3 ch sp, ch 1, ss into 3rd ch of beg 4 chs

Round 6

NB – in Round 6, and all subsequent rounds, where items are in brackets after the word “skip”, this means there is more than one item to skip, ie, all the stitches listed between the brackets should be skipped.

The darning needle in the photograph above shows where to place the next tr after skipping for Round 6.

ch 3 (to count as tr), *ch 5, skip (1 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp), tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st (2 tr, ch 3, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, repeat from * 3 more times, 5 ch, skip (1ch, tr, 1 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp), tr in next st, tr in ch sp, tr in next st, (2 tr, ch 3, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, ss into 3rd ch of beg chs

Round 7

ss into each of next 3 ch, ch 1 (does not count as a st), dc into same ch *ch 3, skip (2 ch, 2 sts) tr in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 1, (tr, ch 3, tr) in 3 ch sp, ch 1, tr in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 3, dc into 5 ch sp, rep from * 4 times.  NB on final repeat, end with ss into beg dc (instead of dc in 5 ch sp)

Round 8

ch 1, dc in same st, *dc in 3 ch sp, ch 4, skip (rest of 3 ch sp, 1 tr, 1 ch sp), tr in next st, tr in ch sp, tr in next st, (2tr, ch 3, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in ch sp, tr in next st, 4 ch, skip (1 ch sp, tr), dc in 3 ch sp, dc in next st, repeat from * 4 times.  NB on final repeat, end with ss into beg dc (instead of dc in next st)

Round 9 

ch 1 (does not count as a st), dc in same st, *5 ch, skip (dc, 4 ch sp, 2 sts) tr in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 1, (tr, 3 ch, tr) in 3 ch sp, ch 1, tr in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st, tr in next st, 5 ch, skip (2sts, 4 ch, 1 dc), dc in next st, repeat from * 4 times.  NB on final repeat, end with ss into beg dc (instead of dc in next st)

If you are familiar with reading charts, Chart 2 (at the end of this document) covers rows 10-13 with row 9 included for clarity to indicate to the user where one chart finishes and the other starts.

Round 10

NB – in Round 10, as with some previous rounds, there are quite a few stitches to skip. The photograph above shows the correct place to continue. 

ss into each of next 5 ch, ss into next st, ss into 1 ch sp, ss into next st, ch 3 (to count as tr), tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, (2 tr, 3 ch, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st * 9 ch, skip (ch 1 sp, tr, 5 ch, dc, 5 ch, tr, ch 1 sp) tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, (2 tr, 3 ch, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next sp, rep from * 3 times, skip (1 ch sp, tr, 5 ch sp, dc, 5 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp), ch 9, ss in top of beg 3 ch

Round 11

ss into each of next 2 st, ch 4 (to count as tr and ch 1), skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 1 (tr, ch 3, tr) in 3 ch sp, ch 1, tr in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st *ch 4, dc in 9 ch sp, ch 4, skip (rest of 9 ch sp, 2 sts) tr in next st, ch 1, skip 1 st, tr in next st, ch 1 (tr, ch 3, tr) in 3 ch sp, (ch 1, tr in next st) twice, rep from * 3 times, ch 4, dc in 9 ch sp, 4 ch, skip (rest of ch 9 sp, 2 sts), ss in 3rd of beg 4 ch

Round 12

ss in 1 ch sp, ss in next st, ch 3 (to count as tr), tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, *(2 tr, ch 2, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, ch 4, skip (1 ch sp, 1 st), dc in 4 ch sp, dc in next st, dc in 4 ch sp, ch 4, skip (rest of 4 ch, tr, 1 ch sp), tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, repeat from * 3 times, (2 tr, ch 2, 2 tr) in 3 ch sp, tr in next st, tr in 1 ch sp, tr in next st, ch 4, skip (1 ch, 1 tr), dc in 4 ch sp, dc in next st, dc in 4 ch sp, ch 4, skip (rest of 4 ch sp, tr, 1 ch sp), ss into 3rd of beg 3 ch

Round 13

ch 1 (does not count as st), dc in same st, *dc in next st, ch 3, ss into dc just worked to form a picot, dc in each of next 3 sts, ch 75, ss in 5th ch from hook, dc in next ch, htr in next ch, 2 htr in each of rem 68 ch, skip 2 ch sp, dc in each of next 3 sts, ch 3, ss into dc just worked to form a picot, dc in each of next 2 sts, 4 dc in 4 ch sp, dc in next 2 sts, ch 3, ss into dc just worked to form a picot, dc in next st, 4 dc in 4 ch sp, dc in next st, repeat from * 4 times.  NB on final repeat, end with ss into dc at beg of round (instead of dc in next st). Leaving a tail long enough to weave in, cut yarn, draw through loop on hook to fasten off. 

HANGING LOOP

Turn the hanger upside down and check the twists on the hanging strings are spiralling all in the same direction (I had mine going clockwise). Give it a bit of a shake, check each string has roughly the same number of twists on them. Carefully lay the hanger down with the strings separated from each other. 

One at a time, insert your crochet hook through the loops at the top of the hanging strings, in the same order they go around the hanger. 

Make a loose slip knot in your yarn, place it on the end of your hook and draw it through all five loops on the hanging strings. Pull the yarn a little tighter and then ch 1 (this is referred to hereafter as the “initial ch”).

ch 10, ss into the initial ch, pulling the yarn tight again.


Turn, ch 1 (does not count as a st), 12 dcs into 10 ch ring, ss into initial ch. Leaving a tail long enough to weave in, cut yarn, draw through loop on hook.  When weaving in the end on the hanging loop, wrap the yarn around the initial chain a few times to reinforce it. 

Weave in ends.





Sunday, 22 November 2020

Who IS the VBP man, why does he wear a bowler hat?

I have just finished listening to a very funny Audiobook "Born to be Mild; Adventures for the Anxious" by Rob Temple. I loved it, it's very entertaining in a spookily accurate way; and also a now melancholy reminder of what ordinary life was like just before the pandemic. I could heap many more plaudits and praise on this book but it would take up more of your valuable time to read so please just take it as a given I'm a huge fan of its brilliance.

I follow the @verybritishproblemsofficial Instagram feed, I think it's something to do with Rob Temple because he also writes those books too. (I know he's on Twitter but I'm not a Twatterer because it's very bad for me, full of one-sided conversations I can't follow, I don't like myself on it so how can anyone else? Anyway, I've closed two accounts already and have forgotten the password to my third).

Any minute now, she'll get to the point of this blog posting .... I can hear your brain screaming at me. Right, so I will.

I don't get one of Rob Temple's references. It's in a section that resonates with me particularly strongly because it's about how seemingly little things can make an anxious person's head virtually explode. I want to fully understand it. 

To set the scene, the author is standing in a "queue" behind a couple with a baby on an adventure to Blackpool Tower, the quasi-sorry-excuse-for-a-queue has already annoyed him. Now this couple are asking daft questions, even the baby is guilty in this; they are holding the line up with pointless enquiries. This is the passage which I took down in shorthand during my second listening of this marvellous book:

"I am one limp burger away from going Michael Douglas, except without the guns. I tell myself to stop being so angry, stop trying to bend the world to you. Nobody asked you to come here. Maybe I'm doing it on purpose because I think I'm the VBP man with the bowler hat from the book. No, no, I am really like this, unfortunately. I am about to break my own neck by tensing too much. Calm down. By the time I'm paying for my ticket, I have already ruined the experience for myself. Anxiety causes me to get so quietly wound up because I'm constantly trying to communicate my dissatisfaction with a situation by thinking about it really intensely and then getting pissed off because nobody can hear what I'm NOT saying."

Who is this "VBP man in the book"? I get the Michael Douglas reference (from the film Falling Down) "I'm the bad guy?" Classic line! But "the VBP man" has defeated me. I've also asked Micky Taking Monster and two major search engines but have drawn a blank.

There are a few possibilities that occur

  • It's a misprint, it should say something else
  • It was misread by Mr Baynton, in an otherwise flawless performance, he should in fact have said something else.
  • I have misheard Mr Baynton, I should've heard something else.
  • I'm perhaps not in the target age demographic, Rob Temple was 39 when he wrote Born to be Mild. Maybe if I ask someone in their 30s, it's a reference they would get immediately. 
  • This was a test for observant readers/audiobook listeners and prizes are sent to anyone who points it out. (Fingers crossed, eh?)
  • The author can't remember writing this paragraph and now has no idea what it means. In which case, I promise I will let him know if I ever find out
  • Does this really matter?

Yes, I know it doesn't matter, particularly at the moment when there are far bigger things to worry about. B-u-u-t ...one of the things I like most about reading (or listening to) books are the jumping off points they sometimes give you.

I have now become obsessed with really, really wanting to read the book that the VBP man is in and finally find out why he wears a bowler hat. If anyone can help me out with the title of the book the VBP man is in and the author's name, you'd be really helping me out. 

If anyone can't leave a comment giving me the answer because of the "I am not a Robot" requirements, I'm also asking the same question on Instagram @soozjewels but in a more concise manner.

Thanks for reading!

EDITED: at 4:22 next day, a light bulb goes off. VBP stands for Very British Problems. Mr Temple must have a bowler hatted man in one of his VBP books (which I haven't read yet) thank f*ck for that, maybe I can get some sleep now! 🤣 😴


Sunday, 16 August 2020

2020 activities

So what have I been doing since my last blog entry so long ago when the tories were elected with a depressingly large majority and an even bigger mandate for Johnson to deliver Brexit?  In six months (edited, make that eight months now) the world has been upended, tipped out and stuff that is even more frightening than Brexit has emerged. How I long to get back to fretting about just Brexit as I was feverishly knitting my Cowl against Brexit in protest

Those appear to be the good old days now.

On the plus side, my business has been doing well. Furloughed persons have still been buying beads to make into jewellery.



Or maybe the improvement in my photography skills has been making mine stand out a bit more.

Anyway, I've been able to continue working through the pandemic which has given me less time to worry than I might have done, turnover is very healthy compared to last year.

MTM has kept his job, mainly doing estimating and admin work from his regional office just a few miles up the road. He worked there all on his own so ran no risks. Other persons who sometimes hot desk there all worked from home or on NHS sites converting wards for Covid-19 patients. MTM did some backroom work on that, his age (over 60) meant he was forbidden by risk assessments not to physically be present on hospital sites but organising labour and sourcing materials, scheduling deliveries can all be done on the phone. He even managed some Zoom meetings, I've yet to have that dubious pleasure.

Our customary week's Spring break to Northumberland had to be put on hold and is postponed to September, fingers crossed we'll be allowed to go. As I type it's a yes, but the situation changes fast. I was looking back at last year's photographs in order to get some printed (photography course homework) and this one is a netaphor for how not being able to go made us feel but all the time people were dying, it was a very small sacrifice for the greater good.


These are bluebell bulbs, dug up and transplanted to my own garden shortly before my childhood home was sold, I sent a print to my mum, she loved it.
I've kept up with my photography course, in fact I've nearly finished the first year. 

Some other photographs of flowers in our garden





Hoverflies are beginning to be a thing in my photos. There's even one photo bombing the one below, can you spot him?


Of course, there's been no socialising in person. No going off to meet friends for meals out, family parties, concerts etc but as an introvert who likes being left alone, I've not actually missed it that much. I always enjoy such occasions but I feel with all my various hobbies, crafts, garden etc. I've been training for lockdown all my life.

I've been into town precisely twice since lockdown eased, once to get my hair cut and another time to show support to my local yarn shop. I'm really unhappy with the way other people interpret what social distancing means. In order to avoid confrontation, I just simply shan't be doing that again. Everything I buy is mail order now.

I've got lots of projects on the go, I even finished a few and I am never, ever bored.

This is a work in progress, a safe at home blanket. People were complaining they were stuck at home but this pattern was designed (not by me) to be positive and focus on the fact that you're NOT stuck at home, you're **safe** at home. And that's just how I feel too. If I don't go anywhere there are other people, I'm quite happy. It's fortunate I can work at home.

Here is one that got finished before it got too hot to have a blanket on my lap in the evenings. Here it is adorning the bed in the newly refurbished spare bedroom




We are still refurbishing other rooms in fits and starts depending on material and labour availability. As the full lockdown loomed, we got a load of materials dropped off in anticipation of MTM being furloughed so he could be productive doing things on the house whilst not working but of course, that didn't happen and so we've been working our way through it all at weekends.

There was a big shortage of plaster at the time we needed it. British Gypsom completely shut and furloughed everyone for months. I'll probably tell more about the refurbishments we got done in the future, in the meantime, here is the floor of the other spare bedroom sanded down and awaiting sealing.


In common with everyone else, I had a sudden urge to succeed this year in growing some food. I thought maybe by the time I started harvesting, this would probably all be over but after seeing empty shelves in the local Co-Op and being unable to book our usual weekly on-line delivery of groceries, I may have panicked a bit ...


Fortunately on-line grocery ordering came back after three fraught weeks but we've been eating home grown radishes, cucumbers, blackcurrants, tomatoes and courgettes for quite a while now. I grew lots of kale as well but I'm not quite sure why (I guess I just had some seeds), I don't have any recipes for it so need to look some up, it's doing really really well!

We wouldn't quite have starved but turnips have been a bit of a bust, like beetroots which I adore, my plot doesn't seem to grow root crops well. It's partially shaded so I have to stick with things that don't mind that. I didn't get round to covering the strawberries this year so the squirrel and blackbirds got those.

Dad's rhubarb is still going strong. I would've grown more vegetables but getting seeds was problematic after the lockdown started with seed companies quoting weeks for delivery and that's if their website wasn't crashing with the volume of users with the same idea. So I just made do with what was in my seed box from previous years.

I've been typing this blog posting for several weeks, I kept meaning to get round to finishing, just never quite managed to squeeze it in. Overall, I just wanted to say that we're lucky, very lucky. I hope all my readers are safe and well too.

PS I still haven't got a new mobile phone.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Things for Room 101

Today I am feeling grumpier than usual so I'm just going to talk about lots of things that get on my nerves and get it all off my chest once and for all. These are first world problems, I know overall I'm very fortunate, but seemingly little things are bugging me and I'd like put them all in room 101, please.

Cards with glitter on them (or more often NOT stuck on them). Not only is it environmentally unfriendly as it's plastic but this stuff gets everywhere, when you think you've dusted and hoovered it away, more appears out of thin air. It breeds like tribbles and pine needles. I have been known to buy them myself but only to avenge myself on those who have sinned against me. A self-perpetuating problem, if I stopped.. would they?

Coat hangers; these things are evil triangles of exasperation. Even on their own they try your patience. Three or four tangled together are a menace to sanity. I quite like ironing, I really don’t mind doing it at all, especially if I can do it in between points during a televised tennis match but dealing with the coat hangers spoils it.

Packaging that is too tall to fit in your cupboards. The worse ones are where the supermarket gives you 20% free and you can't buy the proper sized ones til the promotion is over. Just reduce the price instead! 

Modern plugs. Both the moulded ones with an integral cable and the upside down ones which have transformers atrached. I live in an old house, many of the sockets are just above the skirting board and hence they only just go in, leaving a little gap. When I'm vacuuming carpets or steaming the kitchen floor, when the extent of the cable is reached, it pulls out very easily. Some sockets in my house cannot be used at all. The house was designed for the old style plugs which you could rewire yourself. It's a safety thing I guess, to stop people who didn't do it right from electrocuting themselves; all I can say to that is they clearly deserved it, Darwinism in action. 

Pump action dispensers that don't go right too the bottom of the container. The see thru ones add insult to injury as not only can you feel the weight of the product you can't get at, you can SEE it as well! When you complain to the manufacturer, they say they put more in the container to make up for it. This just annoys me more, they KNOW about it, don't solve it AND are deliberately wasteful.

Ansaphones that beep incessantly until you listen to the message. You can hear it nearly everywhere in the house. What's wrong with just a discreet flashing light I can check as and when I'm ready to see if anyone needs me? My other half is also irritated by it but he thinks you have to delete the message as well as listen to it to make it shut up. So he’ll tell me, “so-and-so left a message for you” so I go to listen to it but it’s gone! 

Cheese that sticks to the knife when you try to slice it for a sandwich. 

Strangers in the street who tell you to "cheer up".

Clothing labels that itch the back of your neck. Don't the people who design/manufacture clothing wear their own brands?

People with limp wristed knocks that are so quiet you can't hear them. I have a doorbell ... why wouldn't you use it? It's a good job I have a dog or I would never get any of my packages. Supermarket drivers are the worst. If there was some way to make my door knocker activate a really annoying beep like my ansaphone so I don't miss packages (or my food delivery) that would be great. 

Labels on wine bottles and attractive glass jars that you can't remove by soaking in water.

Things left in the sink. If you're not going to put them in the dishwasher or wash them up yourself, then leave them on adjacent work surfaces, that is a better option. It drives me nuts to have to remove things from the sink before washing an apple or emptying out the dog's water bowl to put fresh in. WORSE are things that are left in the sink which have cold clammy water on top of them on the pretext they're "soaking". Never has my fellow house inhabitant ever removed such an item a little later, if he did, maybe he would realise how unpleasant it is. I can only assume this affrontery is a message "I can't be bothered to wash this, it's quicker to just cover with water and ABANDON it." I have to put my hand into scummy, yukky cold water to take it out ... yuk!

Thunder flies.

Man-sneezes exaggerated for effect and far louder than is strictly necessary. Imagine you were escaping from a murderous assassin (not me, obviously I wouldn't murder anyone JUST for sneezing ...) If you really, really HAD to sneeze in your hiding place, wouldn't you TRY to do it quietly?

I realise it should only be three things but it’s my blog, my rules. If you have a problem with that, I'll just have to put you in Room 101 as well.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Can I learn to love my mobile phone?


I have to have a mobile phone because I'd never go out in my car without the reassurance that I can summon help. I am a very anxious "what-if-what-if" kind of person. I worry about everything, I need props, back-up procedures and detailed planning before doing many things. I've even needed professional help with anxiety which - at times - paralyses me into inaction. So you see, I have to have one. I wish I didn't.

Anyway, that's the only good thing about a mobile phone, it stops me worrying about breaking down or being in an accident. Reasons to detest and loathe it are multitudinous.

Every time I upgrade to a new phone (3 times) the new one has been worse than the one before. In hindsight, my first clunky, chunky Nokia from 1997 is recalled now with great fondness; all the reassurance it gave me. Getting texts out of it was a hit and miss affair, but the battery would last nearly a week if I didn't use it.

The one I have now runs out of charge 18 hours even if I haven't used it for anything other than checking the date (like once). 

When its battery is depleted (which is always), I have to wait til it's got 3% power before it will switch back on. Even though it's plugged in, with the entire national grid's electricity supply at its disposal, I cannot get a phone number out of it.

When I'm in poor reception areas, my phone remembers and when I've moved to a place where I know reception is good, I have to turn it off and on again before it realises it can work again.

When it got lost at a gig, I rang O2 and they deactivated it for me. Thankfully, I got it back from the venue. I expected to have to reactivate it but no, it just worked ...?! 

It won't fit into the front pocket of my jeans, only the back, I forgot and accidentally sat on it so the screen has had a crack for weeks but it still works (something else in it's favour I grudgingly accept). I need to upgrade but I can't go back to the shop where I got this one. 

Once I finished paying for it and my contract expired, O2 in Stamford have never left me alone. Constant messages, texts and phone calls asking me to ring them as they have "important information about my account" which I ignored.

Recently, I went for a routine hospital screening appointment with a dangerously low charge (as usual). My lift was picking me up at the point he dropped me off but somehow, after the appointment, I'd come out of the wrong exit in another part of the hospital; I had no idea where I was. 

Panicking a little bit, I got my phone out to ring him to say I'd be a bit longer but as I did, it rang. I answered, thinking it was my rescuer, the knight in shining armour and all round wonderfulness that is my husband. Instead, I got the O2 shop ... I kind of exploded at them about, well everything. How dare they use up my charge, I told them I would never ever spend another penny in their shop, this phone is for my convenience not theirs and to stop hassling me. And I did it in an extremely loud voice. They haven't bothered me since.

Now I'm very interested in photography, and I know a few people who can take really wonderful photos on their mobile phones, I have been wondering about getting a mobile with a good camera. I've been looking into what settings you can change on a mobile phone and the reviews say the macro settings on the latest models rival a dSLR. I was hoping for a macro lens for my Nikon D700 for Christmas but I'm thinking I might just ask Santa for a new mobile phone instead. Given all my previous rantings about my mobile, Santa will think I've gone mad.

If I do go for a new mobile, all I have to do is find an iPhone shop that will have me, grumpy, negative, middle-aged luddite that I am.

PS, I like how my mobile phone links up with my beloved iPad but THAT's it, there are no other good things about it.