2017: Unblogged!

It’s a fact: 2017 was not a year full of blogging for me.  But that happened for the Best Kind of Reasons!  Because as my health began to improve last year, I suddenly had Choices.

Back when I began this blog, staying home and crocheting on the sofa or maybe doing a short stint of sewing were very often my only choices.  Reading my favourite bloggers and creating a blog of my own was a way for me to still feel connected to the world and part of a community at a time when I was unable to work or socialise, or even go out much at all.  Gradually, as I learned to pace myself and manage my condition it became possible to factor in a few more activities, but I still had many, many days when ‘from the sofa’ was all I could do.

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But lots of things happened last year that helped me move from Illness to Recovery, and I began to find I had the energy to go out and Do Stuff again, without having to spend quite so much time on the sofa in between.  So, YAY – I have been DOING, and Enjoying, but this has often been an ‘either/or’ choice – either I spend my energy crocheting and sewing and blogging, or I spend it going out & doing stuff then resting and not doing anything whilst I recover.  It has been an amazing 12 months for me and I’ve done things that I’d begun to think would never be possible again –  not just the Big Stuff like moving house, but ordinary, day-to-day things like going on a shopping trip or to an evening class.

But I’ve missed sharing my Adventures here with you all and feeling part of this lovely blogging community that we have.  So now that I feel well enough to Do Stuff and write about it, I’d like to start the year by celebrating some of the Wonders I experienced in 2017 that didn’t make it on to the blog!  Beginning with…

BELLY DANCE!  Folks, I have ALWAYS wanted to be a belly dancer, ever since I was a little girl.  I started going to a local class toward the end of 2016, even though at that time I needed someone to drive me there & back and often had to sit out for a lot of the class, then spend 2 or even 3 days In Recovery afterwards.  But I absolutely LOVE it, I have made so many wonderful friends, had SO much fun, and discovered my Inner Dancing Diva!  Not only that but it gives me an excuse to make costumes and dress up: I mean, what’s not to love??  I’ve surprised myself by getting up in public and performing with our troupe and finding that I actually really enjoy it!

Rocking my me-made costume (Top row, far left) at my first ever performance :

In action, performing at an outdoor show last summer

Posing (far right) at our Monday night dance class (pics by Harry Mason, Alanya BellyDance)From Belly Dance to Barefoot dance.  I still need a chauffeur to help me here but I’ve been going to this magical Five Rhythms-inspired dance event most months, and what an amazing crowd of people I’ve met!  (Oh yeah, and I get to dress up some more)Our local weekly Meet & Make Craft group is just the warmest, most fun gang to be in and I couldn’t wish for a more supportive and creative group of friends, I feel SO lucky that this happens right here in our tiny town.YARNDALE!! Yes, I finally got to go, and I met my Crochet SHero Lucy from Attic 24 and visited the famous studio!  Again this was totally thanks to my lovely friends A. and H. (Stars of the Quilt Festival 2016) who looked after me all weekend and made it SO.MUCH.FUN.  Love you gals <3Headdresses!  I have been learning so much about felting, appliqué, and embroidery this last year and making headdresses has given me a platform with which to play with all these different techniques and incorporate all sorts of materials.  I have blogged a few of my finished ‘for sale’ makes, but not really shared the experimental ones I have had so much fun making (and wearing!) for myself along the way.I had a proper, whole week’s holiday in my beloved Glastonbury.  I got to go walking, met up with a friend for the day, visited the Tor and the Chalice Well Gardens, went dancing and even went out to an evening event (I never usually have any energy left by the evening!).  Absolute Magic. Kington Art & Craft Market stall with my lovely pal Delia!  It’s a LONG day and very tiring, but the camaraderie of our fellow stall-holders and the locals who visit us keeps us going, and I am so proud of the fact that we did this.  Another thing that felt impossible just 18 months ago.Crochet clothes!  This has been a Revelation to me – I’ve always envied folk who can knit because I love the idea of me-made jumpers and cardies.  From my first purple alpaca jumper, I was hooked!  I’m still learning as I go along and some things have turned out better than others, but I’ve already completed my first commissioned cardie and my winter wardrobe is looking much funkier this year.L-R: emerald merino jumper, lacy wool/sparkle mix shrug, lacy emerald top with hand-swen beaded fringe Yep, it’s been a wonderful year for me, and I’m feeling hopeful that my health has stabilised enough now that I will be able to continue to take on new projects and be even more creative in 2018.  And write about it all!  Thank you, as always for sharing my Adventures…

Wishing you all a very joyful, amazing year ahead – can’t wait to see what it brings 🙂

WonderWool Wales 2017

I can’t believe it’s a month already since Wales’ premier woolly event, the Wonderwool Wales show!   Me & Cy packed up our cameras & tardis-like shopping bags, raided the cashpoint and donned our best me-made crochet wearables, landing at the Royal Welsh showground in Builth around 10.30am.  THREE giant halls packed with all kinds of displays and GORGEOUS STUFF awaited us!

Some of the local Guild Group’s work We saw plenty of real ones too but only this sheep was up for a photo opportunity with Cy Felt fish!  I loved this rug-making technique using scraps of wool fabric rolled up like swiss rolls, although I couldn’t quite work out how all the sections were joined together!This amazing piece is a hand-knitted map of Llandysul, home to the National Wool Museum.  (Spot the me-made crochet jumper No. 2, finally finished just in time for summer, oh well…) I loved all the tiny little details, SO much work has gone into this beautiful pieceThere didn’t seem to be so much crochet on display as I would have liked, although to be honest we didn’t get round the whole thing so I may well have just missed it.  My fave was the vibrant colours and varied textures of Jane Crowfoot’s ‘Sunshine and Showers’ blanket Since we are now both totally hooked on needle felting we had a field day rummaging through piles of beautiful wool tops and I came home with a bulging bag full, as well as some gorgeous yarn for next winter’s first jumper project.  All in all a Grand Day Out – the sun shone, we met up with friends, had a yummy Polish Cuisine lunch and talked about crafts all day long!  Perfect… Already dreaming of next year’s…

Wishing you all a Wonderful Weekend 🙂

 

Winter Crochet Report

Winter is ALMOST over, hurray! And it’s feeling pretty spring-like here: the crocuses are out even if it IS still a bit chilly.  But I have braved the March winds and emerged from my hibernation, and I thought I’d begin by sharing with you some of my finished crochet projects from the dark months…

So, first up, YES, I did finish the purple alpaca jumper!  And I have worn it to death ever since!  It’s very warm and snuggly without being too weighty, which is exactly what I wanted.  It did look pretty smart when first completed but it’s already begun to pile rather disappointingly (shall I name names, Drops Alpaca yarn??) as you can doubtless see from these pictures.   Hopefully this will be temporary!  I pretty much followed a freebie pattern from African Expressions (download HERE, code 6006) using my trusty size F hook.  However their tension square/size guide made no sense to me whatsoever so I just measured an existing jumper and worked it out for myself.  My main other changes were to leave the bottom 3″ of the side seams free (tunic-style) and add two rows of the shell edging from the bottom to the sleeve cuffs as well.  I am chuffed to bits that I can make wearable jumpers and am now working on No.2!Inspired by this success, I decided to have a go at something lacey and complicted!  Ages ago I was given a skein of beautiful hand-dyed Araucania Botany Lace yarn and I’ve been pondering what to make with it ever since.  This Whole New Concept of crocheting my own clothes, plus the revelation that lightweight things can keep you warm led me to alight on THIS PATTERN by Girlie’s Crochet for a sassy bolero-shrug-type thing. The pattern actually looks more complex than it is, and because you join-as-you-go the squares, it turned out to be quite a quick make.  It also turned out that a 100g/415m skein was about 5g short of what I needed!  So: VERY many thanks to my lovely friend M. who came up with something suitable from her stash for me for the edging!  I think the contrasting yarn works rather nicely don’t you? – And I’m especially chuffed with the little shamrock ends on the ties!Now I bet you’re wondering what became of that marathon project, my take on Attic 24’s Cosy Stripe, the Boho Blanket?Whoo-Hoo!!  Finished just after Xmas, so yay, I DID achieve my aim of getting it on my bed before the year was out!I do totally love the way this turned out, with it’s sumptuous mini-granny-square border, finished with a combi of Cosy Blanket edging and a dinky picot.  The colours feel so gloriously gorgeous and it brightens up my dingy bedroom so much!  For the record it took ONE HUNDRED AND SIX squares to go right around this blanket and no, I will NOT be making another one.  EVER…And while we’re on the subject of squares, I have also spent very many an evening hook in hand engrossed in some DVD or other, and turned out yet another bunch of these to send off to KAS-CareI’ve been experimenting with making super-chunky squares by crocheting a thinnish yarn in one colour together with lots of odds and ends of other colours and weights.  These were done with a size G (4.25mm) hook and are great stash-busters!  (I think of them as my ‘Blake’s 7 squares’ as they took me the whole of Season 1 do…)Not content with sending them my own squares, I also unearthed some my mum had made aeons ago and offloaded passed on to me, together with a big bag of yarn.  So I had fun adding extra borders to make them up to size and into the parcel they go!I hope you’ve all had a cosy winter and are ready to venture forth into Spring!  As usual I have more projects lined up for this year than I will ever finish in a lifetime, but hey at least I’ve got plenty to choose from!

Wishing you all a very cheery week 🙂

Winter crochet projects

Brr, I don’t know about you but it’s FREEZING here in the Marches at the moment!  This morning the water in the top of my rain barrel was frozen solid, and it didn’t thaw out all day.  Times like these, the best place to be is snuggled on the sofa with some cosy winter crochet projects.  And since it is properly cold now, my creative thoughts seem to be rather pre-occupied with making things to keep me warm!

Remember about a year ago, when I started an Attic 24 Cosy Stripe blanket project for myself?  And then I saw this lovely version with a granny square border and was inspired to do something similar?  Uh-huh…  Well, it took me about 2 months to crochet the blanket, and I am STILL working on the border!  In fact I Lost the Will with this project over the summer, but recently I’ve picked it up again and have now made what I HOPE is all the granny squares, so maybe it will even be finished and on my bed before the year is out, who knows…?!somanysquaresNow, another past project with which I Lost The Will was my first attempt at crocheted clothing – the granny square ENORMO-CARDIE, way back in Feb 2014.  It’s taken me quite a while to get over that particular disaster, but I thought I’d have another go, this time at a nice simple jumper.  And it’s coming along rather well, as you can see!  Watch this space for a WhooHoo any day now!purplealpaca1

Right, that’s it – the sofa is beckoning…

Wishing you all a very warm & cosy week 🙂

Granny Takes a (HUGE) Trip Cardigan

gtat frontRemember this? – Yes, it’s the gorgeous ‘Granny Takes a Trip’ cardigan pattern by Elene Warren.  As regular readers will know, I’ve been working on this project for an absolute AGE now.

I was fully expecting to be giving a big ‘WhooHoo!’ reveal on this one this week, but sadly not.  Let me show you why…

68 squares, 2 half-squares and 10 godets, all blocked EXACTLY to the pattern measurements blockedsquares2   All laid out and sewn together in stripscardielayoutEvery strip edged with additional rows of DC (US Treble) in order to make up my size (according to the pattern); godets sewn into place; strips assembled and sewn together as per diagram (on inadequate table in poorly-lit room!)joininggranny

And now, finally, today, the moment of try-on!  Just the lovely picot edging to do.  So come on, tell me honestly….toobig3

HOW DID IT HAPPEN?!?

Obviously, the girl on the pattern picture is seven feet tall, but who knew her shoulders were four feet wide as well??

Ho hum.  In my defence, this is the first time I’ve crocheted a garment, so even though I do a lot of dressmaking and always get my tape measure out rather than trust the sizes given on the pattern envelope, I just didn’t think to do the same for this!  Lesson learned…toobig2Right, I’m off now to do some unpicking.  I may be some time!