ScrapHappy May

After my foray into sewing in April, this month’s ScrapHappy make takes us back to yarn, cotton yarn to be specific. My bag full of left-over cotton yarn was severely depleted by the stripy corner-to-corner blanket that I mostly made whilst on holiday:

Blanket from big scraps

But there were still piles and piles of partial balls of yarn left over. In my experience, the best way to use up small amounts of yarn is to make little granny squares. The centre can be made from a really short length and adds to the diversity and beauty of the finished creation. So far I’ve made 64 squares, and I’m getting close to the end of the yarn. I’m hoping to manage another eight, to make a 9 × 8 blanket:

I plan to use recycled cotton yarn to join all these little squares together. This represents other peoples scraps, even though it’s new to me. The finished blanket is destined to be donated to charity via Sixty Million Trebles.

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

 

This is my life: cheese, squares and a tiny egg

Please note the comma between ‘cheese’ and ‘squares’ – this post is not about processed “cheese” abominations.

So, in reverse order…

Lorna and Tiffany's eggs flanking today's contribution

Lorna and Tiffany’s eggs flanking today’s contribution

This morning I embarked on the usual chores. Once it’s light enough (and sometimes well after) I pull on my Wellington boots and venture out into the mud (known as ‘our garden’ in the summer) to let the hens out. I open their pop hole and the door that lets them out of the small run, then I go into the shed to get a handful or two of corn to scatter for them as a morning treat. Whilst they are pecking around in the corn I take a scoop of layer mash from the feed bin and go and fill up their feeder in the run before returning to the shed with the scoop. It was as I was exiting the shed after putting the scoop away that I noticed what I, at first, thought was a small, slightly muddy potato where the hens were eating their corn . I closed the door and stooped down to examine the object, which turned out to be hard and warm. As far as I can think, there is only one warm ovoid object that might appear suddenly in our garden and that’s an egg… but this one was tiny. So clearly, between the corn being scattered and me finishing the feeding (a period of less than two minutes) an egg had very quietly been laid. It’s so small I’m sure the hen responsible barely noticed – she certainly did not announce its arrival. Who laid it is a mystery… such tiny eggs used to be laid by Perdy, but she is no longer with us. Since Lorna and Tiffany are currently laying normally, I think it must be a first post-moult egg from either Esme or Anna. My money is on Esme as the colour is closest to the eggs that she normally lays. For comparison, the picture shows a Lorna egg (left) and a Tiffany egg (right) with the tiny one in the centre.

Beautiful squares from Jenny at Simply Hooked

Beautiful squares from Jenny at Simply Hooked

Not having solved the mystery of the egg, I returned to the dry and got on with breakfast… homemade yoghurt, homemade granola and home-bottled apple (from apples grown by my dear friends at Highbank). I do love the feeling that I am managing to deliver such a large proportion of my diet without using commercially processed foods. I settled down to work and not long after that the doorbell rang… Henry the postman delivering a new insert for my diary, a book about cheese-making and a lovely parcel of crochet squares. Not long ago, I had an offer of some unwanted crochet squares from Jenny over at Simply Hooked. She has been having a love-hate relationship with this particular project and had decided to let it go… offering the squares to me to use for our friendship blankets that are raising funds for Denmark Farm Conservation Centre. The squares she sent are made of gorgeous, soft merino/cotton yarn… I really hope we can do them justice. If you want a chance to win the resulting blanket, or one of our other creations, I still have raffle tickets on sale and you could also win a long weekend at Denmark Farm in the lovely eco-lodge… details of the raffle here.

I must mention, at this point, that despite a lack of posts, my hands have not been idle in recent weeks. Amongst other things, I have been working on a very large granny square in my palette of blues. This is going to have its corners folded (like a traditional envelope) in to form a sofa cushion cover. It’s nearly large enough and has been a lovely relaxing project… easy on the fingers and the brain!

So, what about that cheese? Well, my first attempt at cheese-making has been a success. I was able to turn the cheese on the evening that I made it (this had to be done twice) and it could be handled easily by the next day. I salted the surface and left it to drain further on Sunday. That morning I used some of the whey (non-salted and pre-treated the night before with lactase enzyme) to make raspberry and white chocolate muffins. The young cheese is firm and crumbly, with a mild creamy flavour. Sprinkled with some freshly ground pepper yesterday and served with homemade bread, it provided me with a very acceptable lunch. In the evening, I crumbled some into baked potato scooped out of its skin, then mashed it up and added a little fried bacon. The resulting mixture was returned to the baked skins, topped with a little local cheddar and grilled for a very tasty dinner.

My friend Snufkin tells me that  she does find the unpredictability of cheese-making frustrating and that’s why I’m a little nervous of the volume of milk and time required to make hard cheese, but I shall give it a go soon. In the mean time, I will be settling down with my new book on cheese-making to drool over all the different varieties and try to work out what I might try next…

-oOo-

I’ve had a hard time writing this post today. I heard the news about the shootings in France when I was part way through and I wondered whether to continue as I was so upset. But, in solidarity with all those who write – and draw – about the world around us and continue to have the freedom to do so, I completed my post (with tears in my eyes). Let us continue to prove the the pencil truly is the most powerful weapon.

 

Narf’s Square

At the request of Narf, today’s post is a pattern for a granny square that I created and mentioned in a previous  post. If you don’t crochet, just enjoy the pretty pictures, but if you do, perhaps you can try this out and let me know if it works for you. The square was originally featured in a single colour:

The original incarnation

The original incarnation

But to make the design easier to follow, I’ve also made it using different colours, so that the stitches show up:

Colourful Narf square

Colourful Narf square

Actually, the two are very slightly different and the pattern is based on the multi-coloured one. All terminology is British and the abbreviations are as follows – slst: slip stitch; dc: double crochet; tr: trebble crochet; htr: half treble; ch: chain.

I made my square with a 4mm hook and double knitting wool, resulting in a 15cm/6 inch square. It is worked in rounds from the centre. If you want to change colours for the rounds, do so at the places I have marked with a ◊. Work once into each st of the previous round, unless otherwise stated

  • Start with a slst and 4ch. Join with a slst into the first chain to make a ring.
  • Round 1: 3ch (acts as the first tr), 11tr into the centre of the ring, slst into 3rd st of initial chain (12 st) ◊
  • Round 2: 3ch (acts as the first tr), tr into same st, 2tr into each st round the ring, slst into 3rd st of initial chain (24 st) ◊
  • Round 3: [4ch, miss 2st, slst into next st] 8 times; slst into last slst of the previous round
  • Round 4: 5dc into each of the eight 4ch loops, slst into first st of the round ◊
  • Round 5: if you are using a single colour, slst once into each of the first 3 st in round 4; if you are changing colours, reattach your yarn in the middle (3rd) st of one of the sets of 5 sts in round 4. THEN [7ch, slst into st 3 of the next set of 5dcs in round 4] 8 times back round to the beginning; slst into the base of the first ch st of the round
  • Round 6: 9dc into each of  the eight 7ch loops, slst into first st of the round ◊
  • Round 7: 2ch, htr, dc, 2slst, [9ch, slst into st5 of the next set of 9dcs in round 6, slst, dc, 4htr, dc, 2slst] three times, 9ch, slst into st5 of the next set of 9dcs in round 6, slst, dc, 2htr, slst into second st of the initial chain in this round
  • Round 8: 3ch (acts as the first tr), [tr into each st until you reach the 9ch in the previous round, then in the 9ch 5tr, 3ch space, 5tr] 4 times, 1tr into each remaining sts of the previous round to the end, slst into 3rd st of initial chain ◊
  • Round 9: 3ch (acts as the first tr), [tr into each st until you reach the corner ch3 of the previous round, in this ch 2tr, 3ch space, 2tr] 4 times, tr once in each st to the end of the round,  slst into 3rd st of initial chain

And that’s it… please let me know if you find any mistakes. This is the first pattern I have actually published, so I’d be surprised if there aren’t a few teething troubles!!

Getting hooked

Despite my skill at making bath puffs, it has become increasingly clear to me that it should be possible to crochet other things – it’s just that I have been unable to make this transition. So, yesterday, I took my first step to rectify this and went on a beginners’ crochet course at the wonderful Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.

OK, I accept that this was cheating a bit, because I’m not a beginner, but I felt that being able to make a chain and a bath puff hardly constituted being anything more than a beginner.

Everyone produced a granny square - here are three of them

Everyone produced a granny square – here are three of them

I learnt such a lot, though. All those on-line resources and books are great, but you can’t beat a face-to-face lesson – particularly to help get to grips with a skill you’ve been struggling with for ages. The other people who were there could not crochet at all, so I was at a bit of an advantage, but by the end of the morning, we had all produced a granny square and after lunch everyone made at least one more and learnt how to crochet them together.

By the end of the day, I'd made all these!

By the end of the day, I’d made all these!

Being the obsessive that I am, and being on a roll, I got carried away and produced a total of four and a half granny squares, two joined together, plus a circular coaster. I made the latter using a pattern that the tutor supplied – I really wanted to find out if I could follow a written pattern and it turns out I could (although it was really simple). We had a chat about following a chart and what the terminology means (including the difference between UK and US) and so now I feel ready to embark on something more challenging… I’m thinking fingerless mittens, which the tutor also gave us a pattern for, before I attempt a crocheted snail… well, the knitted ones need a friend!

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