Loveliness

I saw this as I was coming home this afternoon… it’s good to enjoy the loveliness in this world…

The colours were even better in real life.

Three Things Thursday: 19 January 2017

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain (note her new self-hosted web site) here are my Three Things Thursday. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, antibiotics. It’s very rare Chez Snail that any of us take antibiotics – we are generally quite healthy and we don’t go rushing to see the doctor with every cough and sniffle. With excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics, various bacteria are building resistance and therefore becoming untreatable. I’m pleased to say, however, that when required they mostly still work. In fact, this week it was Max who was in need – the poor little chap developed an abscess on one of his anal glands, resulting in a very swollen and sore bottom. However, a shot of antibiotics from the vet and a subsequent course of tablets and he’s pretty much mended…

Second, Muraya koenigii. My recent interest in Indian cooking has led me to start investigating growing some of my own exotic ingredients. I was so happy, therefore, to discover somewhere I could buy a curry leaf plant. They apparently make great house plants, so this one will live in the house in winter (needs to be above 15ºC) and in the limery in the summer. I do hope it thrives, as I have lots of recipes that include curry leaves.

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curry leaf plant

 

Third, the kindness of strangers (and friends). The Sixty Million Trebles group on Facebook was set up as a project to make blankets for charity (at least half going to refugees). However, it’s so much more than that and full of kind people. On Sunday the organisers set up a ‘Solve My January Blues’ event for the group. You could post up a request to cheer you up in the depths of January (the group is based in the UK, although we do have members worldwide) and members tried to help. I do find January a bit glum, so I asked whether anyone would send me a hand-written letter. Well, wow – what a response… I’m all smiles after only four days, look…

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lovely letters and cards

And a bonus smile… these flowering in my garden today:

So, those are 3+1 things making me smile this week – what about you?

Scrap Happy January

This year I plan to make at least one item every month out of oddments/scraps. My first of the year was actually started (and blogged about) in 2016, but I finally finished it last night.

All the yarn, except that used to edge the squares and make the border, was from my pile of left-overs. I did buy some New Lanark British wool for the borders because I simply didn’t have enough of any one yarn available and I wanted some consistency, what with the squares (and rectangles) being so random.

I had fun trying out some new patterns and relaxing with some old ones, plus I was able to incorporate a few squares that I had left over from past projects (including two that had been given to me by my friend Ann). The colours were, of course, dictated by what was in my bag and were not always what I would have chosen, but it’s bright and cheerful, not to mention lovely and warm.

This is the first of my charity blankets for this year and it’s going to Knit for Peace, who will find it a good home . It’s completely the wrong dimensions for Sixty Million Trebles , so a blanket for them will be my next scrappy charity project, which actually I’ve already started:

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just beginning

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) Scrap Happy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) Scrap Happy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

Three Things Thursday: 12 January 2017

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain (note her new self-hosted web site) here are my Three Things Thursday. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, our local library. I haven’t been a member of a library since I resigned from the university, but last Saturday I finally got round to calling in to our local town library and joining. Since I spend all day editing, I don’t read many fiction books (I listen to audio versions, which the library also stocks – yay), but I do make lots of use of non-fiction books. So, here is the first one I have borrowed:

Some inspiration when baking for my gluten-intolerant friends

Some inspiration when baking for my gluten-intolerant friends

Second, boro. I’ve been meaning to have a go at Japanese visible mending for a while. I’m quite pleased with my first attempt, which I wanted to be subtle in case it turned out badly! There is substantial reinforcement on the reverse. This is one knee of a pair of Mr Snail’s jeans.

Boro: visible mending

Boro: visible mending

Third, my first pattern sale. It’s taken me ages and a lot of hard work to finalise my bird roost pattern, but it was very gratifying to make my first sale of it from my etsy store. This little boost is encouraging me to get on and finish a second pattern that I’ve been working on – knitting this time.

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A roost made to test the pattern

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

New technique, old yarn

I find it very easy to get set in my ways and never more so than when I’m knitting or crocheting. It’s so easy to pick up yarn and needles/hook and embark on a familiar pattern or stitch without really thinking, so I’m always pleased when something comes along that gives me a bit of a shove. One such thing was the Sixty Million Trebles (SMT) project, for which lots of the participants are making ‘corner to corner’ blankets. These blankets are made using a technique I hadn’t encountered before, but I noticed that it was described in my new crochet squares book, so I decided to give it a go. It turns out that it’s very easy and really fun to do, and it looks rather nice when done:

I have been working on projects recently all aimed at using up yarn that I have left over from past work or that has been given to me, but I still have quite a lot of that I want to get through, so I’m planning a corner-to-corner square for SMT using random yarn… I’ll start a ball and carry on with it until it’s done (or I get bored with the colour), then join another and do the same. There will be no planning, no worrying about what goes, just randomness. If nothing else it will result in a warm blanket, and it may even look good too!

 -oOo-

If you can knit or crochet or stitch squares together (or raise funds), SMT is looking for more volunteers, here’s what it’s all about:

The UN at the end of 2015 estimated that there are approximately 60 million refugees Worldwide
Just think about that for a moment. That’s like the population of the UK being without a home
The objective of this group is huge and it’s two fold
We want to create a yarn blanket containing 60 million trebles to represent the 60 million refugees. #onestitchonelife
Then because we have gone that far we want to continue and create the largest yarn blanket the world has ever seen.
To create a yarn blanket with 60 million trebles or equivalent we need around 8,000 36 inch squares, to take it on to become the largest blanket in the world we need around 13,000…
This will be a blanket to represent everyone who cares about the millions who are homeless, stateless and on the move
Running alongside this we are going to be raising funds #onetreble1p. If we raised just 1p for every stitch that would be a massive amount of money.

There’s a Facebook group and an Instagram account and a web site with all the details. This is my little pile of SMT blankets so far:

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Five blankets so far, no yarn bought specially for them

I jest!

It’s very pleasing to start the week with a successfully completed project. I put my jester work bag through the washing machine again on Saturday (60ºC long wash, along with a pair of jeans and my swimming towel to provide some effective agitation) and it felted beautifully:

It’s worth remembering that this was knitted, so it started life looking like this:

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Jester work bag pieces pre-felting

Once it was felted, I draped in over a jam kettle to dry into approximately the right shape:

And then, all that remained this morning was to attach the bells to complete the jester theme:

And this is why it’s a work bag not a handbag (turn your speakers on):

So, thank you Sheepfold for a lovely kit… British wool, fun to make, fabulous colours.

 

Want to crochet a bird roost?

Well, if you do, my pattern is finally available.

After much pondering, I have decided to sell it via etsy, who are all set up for digital downloads. The pattern includes two styles of roost – a house and a pouch – and two options for material – twine and wool – the latter is worked up and then felted to make a snug shelter.

Just click here to buy your copy.

Three Things Thursday: 5 January 2017

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain (note her new self-hosted web site) here are my Three Things Thursday. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, my birthday (even though it was a big one). I had a lovely time on Monday going out to lunch with my family plus Mr Snail bought me these:

Can you spot the theme?

Can you spot the theme?

Second, I finished knitting my jester work bag. It’s currently in the washing machine on a hot wash so fingers crossed the felting works. In the mean time here it is stitched together before felting:

Big and floppy... soon to be smaller and firm!

Big and floppy… soon to be smaller and firm!

Third, threading my overlocker. Despite everyone telling me how difficult it would be, I successfully rethreaded my overlocker after two of the threads broke the other day. Now, I’m not saying it didn’t take me a few attempts, but the diagrams in the manual were clear and once I had worked out why the first thread had broken (a bit of entanglement in one of the thread guides), it wasn’t too bad. I’m feeling rather less intimidated now.

Not as bad as it forst appears

Not as bad as it first appears… look, there’s even a little colour-coded diagram inside the machine on the right

So, those are three things making me smile this week – what about you?

17 for 2017

Over the past year I’ve really enjoyed hearing what fellow bloggers have achieved off the lists that they made at the beginning of the year in 16 for 2016 (and before that in 15 for 2015). So, reading this year’s lists from gillyflower, Nana Cathy, Murtagh’s Meadow and others, I’ve been inspired. As I’ve said, I don’t like new year’s resolutions, but I do like a list. I started off on paper with some ideas.

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it started with a mind map

 

Finally I’ve settled on this list of some of the things I’d like to achieve in 2017…

Seventeen… Love Rocks (my rocks will have little crochet vests rather than glued-on hearts) or other little random yarny/sewn gifts to be given to individuals or left to be found by anyone

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits

Fifteen… cheeses… it’s ambitious, but now I have my great source of milk, it’s do-able and they don’t all have to be hard cheeses

Fourteen… pairs of knickers… that’s how many I’m planning to make!

Thirteen… mends… darning, patching, gluing, stitching… whatever needs doing

Twelve… letters to friends, using real paper and real ink

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop (this is long overdue)

Ten... plants given to good homes (this one is inspired by Murtagh’s meadow)

Nine… games of Scrabble… Mr Snail and I used to play often, but we rarely do now even though it’s something we both enjoy

Eight… meals using only our own produce (except oil and seasoning)

Seven… visits to see friends who I normally communicate with via social media

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns (I have one pattern I use over and over, but I want to diversify)

Five… book chapters written. I’m planning to write a beginner’s guide to ecology

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there (I think there’s a box of 30-year-old bank statements!)

Two… patterns published and on sale. This year I will finally complete my crochet bird roost pattern and my skeleton hat knitting pattern (which involves a chart).

One… denim gardening apron

So, really it’s business as usual, but one or two of my goals may be quite a challenge and this should help to give me focus.

If you have 17 for 2017 blog post, do leave a link in the comments, I’d love to read what you are planning.

Finish as you mean to go on

So, here we are on the last day of the year…

I don’t make new year’s resolutions, I believe that when you want to make a change in your life you should do it when it’s right for you. Making resolutions because someone has told you that you ought to means you are much more likely to fail. However, it’s good to take stock sometimes and today is as good a time as any to do so. For me, 2016 has  involved lots more little steps to have a smaller negative impact on the planet and make life a little better for the people who live on it: from trying to be responsible for less plastic packaging (using soap and shampoo bars, taking our own bags and containers to the shops, seeking out products packaged in paper/cardboard/not at all), to growing lots of food; from undertaking lots of mending, to trying to cut out palm oil.

Today has been no exception: I started with a little pile of garments to mend:

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a variety of mends needed

I started by repairing a pocket of a pair of Mr Snail’s jeans. It had been repaired once before, but a new split had appeared so I used mending tape and a little piece of scrap cotton. The previous mend was spotty and the new one is checks, but only you and I know because they are hidden inside the pocket.

Next I replaced the toggles on my hand-knitted hoodie. The previous ones were glass and two of the three had broken. Before that it had wooden toggles and Sam ate them. This time I’ve used plastic, which I hope will be more durable.

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fingers crossed these never need replacing

Then I darned two pairs of hand-knitted socks. Mr Snail is very hard on his socks, so this is something of an ongoing chore.

My next job was to salvage the usable parts of the underwear that I made with my old sewing machine. Most of the pieces will be reused and stitched together using my new overlocker.

And finally, in my ongoing biscuit quest I made Granny Boyd’s Biscuits… a Nigella recipe that came my way via my friend Sue. The verdict: delicious and really easy to make, plus no palm oil. Thank you Sue, these are going to be a regular bake from now on.

So I have finished the year in the spirit that I intend to live in 2017. How about you? Do you make resolutions? Do you have plans?

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