Three Things Thursday: 16 March 2017

*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*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday.

First, home-made muffins.

Mmmmm… muffins

These were part of a very long Sunday brunch shared with friends (the segregation is lactose-free vs. those with a little lactose).

Second, finished socks.

Aren’t they bright?!

Third, sharing. My friend Ann needed some lace for a project she’s working on: she’s making an album for her wedding memories. I hadn’t got round to giving her a wedding present, so was very happy to send her this from my collection:

Lovely lace

So, those are three things making me smile and for which I am grateful this week – what about you?

From squares to stripes

Last week I finished my sixty million trebles projects with a little yarn-bombing in London to publicise the cause. I printed and laminated tags and attached a heart or flower to each one. London is full of railings, so it didn’t take me too long to find somewhere to hang them in the hope that they would be taken by the curious and that one or two people might get involved.yarnbomb-2I will eventually make some more square blankets for 60MT, but I need a change, so I have returned to some sock-knitting. Last year I subscribed to a sock yarn club, with colours inspired by the Discworld. Somehow, I only got round to knitting up the first ball, so I had five balls of beautiful stripy British sock wool from The Knitting Goddess, just waiting for my needles. I’ve written previously about my disappointment with a previous sock yarn club from which, whilst beautifully dyed, almost none of the wool was hardy enough for socks and I think it was intended for shawls (a bit of mis-selling, sadly). The Knitting Goddess yarn is very different – you choose that base yarn that you want, so it is only the hand-dyed colourway that comes as a surprise when it arrives. The pair of socks that I did knit using this yarn last year are lovely and robust, so I had no hesitation starting another pair. The colourway is called Salamander Flash.

I think I’m going to have the brightest feet in west Wales!

Three Things Thursday: 2 March 2017

*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*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday, this week all seen during a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:

First, I’m very grateful that I don’t have to wear a woollen knitted costume when I go swimming. I can’t imagine the drag factor, the sag factor and how long it would take to get one dry! Click on the picture to go to the V&A’s description of this garment.

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1937 Knitted Bathing Costume

Second, amazing tiles. There were so many in the museum, both as exhibits and as part of the structure. Below you can see two exhibits that particularly made me smile. The tiled panel is from Iznik, Turkey and was made around 1580 (click here for more details); the huge fireplace is also Turkish and dates from 1731 (click here for more details)

Third, the skill that must have been required to make this quartz crystal ewer. It was made in Egypt around 1000 and was carved out of a single block of rock crystal. I have to say that this particular object left me speechless. Click on the picture for more details.

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This carved rock crystal ewer is a thousand years old

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

17 for 2017 – February Update

Spreadsheet

Spreadsheet

Here I am again with a 17 for 2017 progress update (where does the time go?). If you look carefully at my spreadsheet, you can see that one of the rows is full! There are still some rows that don’t contain anything, but I’m making some progress, and some is very seasonal anyway. So, here’s where I am so far:

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. I sent off my first of these just the other day. I want it to be a surprise for the recipient (although she knows it’s on the way), so no photograph just yet.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. I’ve only made one batch this month, but since I made loads last month, the total for the year so far is a respectable 7 batches

Fifteen… cheeses.  No hard cheeses this month, but one batch of curd cheese.

Another pair

Another pair

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. Three more pairs completed this  month bringing the total to five. I’ve getting better with the overlocker, so they are getting easier to make.

Thirteen… mends. Three this month: the knees of Mr Snail’s work jeans patched again; a hole darned for a friend and a pair of my leggings mended.

Twelve… letters to friends. Just one written this month, but that’s ok because I only have to average one a month to reach my target.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. I’m delighted to say that there are now seven bird roosts listed – some felted and some made with woollen twine. I haven’t sold any yet, but it’s early days.

Ten... plants given to good homes. None yet – it’s still too early in the season.

Nine… games of Scrabble. None yet… we seem to have been so busy.

Eight… meals using only our own produce. None yet, although we’ve eaten lots of omelettes, making them partial meals from our garden!

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. I’ve managed two ‘big’ visits – first to Manchester, where I saw a whole load of friends who I know via Twitter, as well as my dear Sarah, who I’ve known since I was 18 and my niece Alex; second to Birmingham, where I got together with lots of permaculture friends, most of whom I communicate with via FaceBook.

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. None yet… it’s all been about crochet recently.

Five… book chapters written. None yet, although I may have persuaded a friend to contribute to the book.

Max quality-controlling the final blanket

Max quality-controlling the final blanket

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. All four done… I will make more later in the year, but I’m having a rest for a while.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. None – it’s still too cold to venture up there yet!

Two… patterns published and on sale. I did one last month, but nothing further this month.

One… denim gardening apron. Not yet, but I will try to sort out the fabric in the coming month.

So, it’s progressing well – how about your projects this year? If you have 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Hooking up

Knitting and crochet are often considered rather solitary pastimes – we sit at home with our hooks and needles, creating lovely things… alone. With the recent popularity of ‘knit and natter’-type groups, things have become somewhat more sociable. Public crafting, however, is still relatively rare, so it was a delight to have the chance to spend Saturday at The Make-it Shop in Manchester crocheting and publicising the 60 Million Trebles project.

I made a weekend of it so that I could be there for the whole day and help my friend Danielle to host the event. The shop is a collection point for blankets for the project, so Saturday provided an opportunity for people to drop off completed work, plus we worked on our wips* and squares for a group blanket during the day.

We set up in the morning and wondered whether many people would come… and to begin with there were just a few of us and I managed to sit down…

the early birds

the early birds

… and then more people started arriving and bringing blankets and we realised that we were going to disappear under blankets and that we didn’t have enough chairs! These two problems were quickly solved by stuffing my car full of the completed blankets and borrowing extra chairs from the café next door! Plus, I mostly stopped sitting down…

What a lovely day it was. I got to meet up with friends old and new and by the end of the day 30 people had participated, we’d made a whole pile of blue and white squares for our communal creation and collected in 45 complete blankets:

All this amazing creative work is being undertaken by kind people from all over the world who are covering all the costs and simultaneously raising money for various charities. Every blanket will be donated to a charity and we may even break a world record!

If you’d like to join in, you can donate money via this Just Giving page or you can donate yarn or squares or make whole blankets… check out this Facebook group or this web page  or @Sixtymilliontre on Twitter to make contact.

-oOo-

* wip = work in progress

Three Things Thursday: 2 February 2017

*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*

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain here are my Three Things Thursday…

First, adventures in pie-making. My latest trip to the library yielded two interesting cookery books, both pie-focused; and, as you can see, I’ve already tested out one recipe (Scotch egg pie).

Library books and a rather untidy pie

Library books and a rather untidy pie

Second, a knitted fish. This arrived in the post from Nana Cathy, along with a lovely letter and three crochet squares to add to one of my charity blankets.

something fishy!

something fishy!

I love this fish so much, that I’m going to gently remove it from the card it’s on and do some freeform crochet round it so that I can incorporate it into my next friendship blanket (a long term and very slow project).

Third, my store cupboard. Last week we ran out of sweet chilli sauce – disaster since it’s the condiment of choice with lots of meals (omelette, roast veg, fishcakes, Scotch egg pie). However, it turned out, that I had all the ingredients to make a new batch in my stores, including homemade passata, my own bottled apples and frozen whole home-grown chillies. The sauce is good, and will be better in a couple of weeks… and making it was so satisfying.

hot hot hot

hot hot hot

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

17 for 2017 – January Update

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see- very geeky!

As we are coming to the end of the month, I thought I’d give you a 17 for 2017 progress update. I’ve got quite geeky about it all and made myself a spreadsheet with hyperlinks to pictures and (in one case) a second spreadsheet, meaning that I should be able to see how I’m getting on at a glance… if I remember to actually update the spreadsheet as I do things! Anyway, in less than I month, this is what I’ve done:

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. I haven’t finished any yet, but I’m working on quite a big creation to send as a surprise gift.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. This was under-ambitious for the year – I’ve already made five batches!

Fifteen… cheeses.  I’m not sure whether I should count one or two here – I made a tomme-style cheese, and then I made ricotta with the whey. I’ve only entered this as one cheese on my spreadsheet, because it was only one cheese-making day.

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. Good progress here: two pairs completed and another six pairs cut out and ready for sewing.

Thirteen… mends. Two done: some boro mending on the knee of a pair of jeans belonging to Mr Snail and a tear in a cotton tunic repaired using my overlocker.

Twelve… letters to friends. In a flurry of activity on a dull and wet day, I wrote five letters!

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. None yet (although one pattern is now listed, but that’s lower down this list)

Ten... plants given to good homes. None yet – it’s too early in the season.

Nine… games of Scrabble. None yet… we’ve got a bit carried away with watching The Blacklist on dvd to the exclusion of playing games.

Eight… meals using only our own produce. None yet, because neither of us fancy kale omelette!

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. One visit to blogging friend Katy the Night Owl.

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. Yarn and new pattern at the ready, but none started yet.

Five… book chapters written. None, although I’m planning a talk on ecology that will form the skeleton of one of the chapters.

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. Two completed – one for Knit for Peace, one for Sixty Million Trebles, and two on my hooks.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. None – it’s too cold to venture up there yet!

Two… patterns published and on sale. Bird Roost pattern finished and available as a digital download from my etsy shop.

One… denim gardening apron. Not yet – I’ve been dithering about the fabric!

If you have 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Crafting change

It’s been gratifying to see craft taking centre stage in world politics over the past few days… did you see all those amazing hand-crafted hats on Saturday? Knitted, crocheted, sewn, and created from plastic bags (check out Alys’ hat here). Such diversity, such individuality – so common to see if you frequent blogs like this one, but so rare to have highlighted in the mainstream media, where the most common craft stories are ‘did you know that knitting is not just for crones?’ and ‘men invented knitting, so it’s ok for them to do it now’.

Chez snail there are no pink hats – many other colours, but not pink – but the creativity is still being channelled towards social change/craftivism. Despite having treated myself to some lovely new wool on Saturday, my hook has only been employed on scrap yarn, creating more blankets for the 60 Million Trebles project (#onestitchonelife) aimed at helping refugees and highlighting the terrible situation of displaced people.

I completed one blanket over the weekend:

I had intended to move on to making something for myself, but at the moment I feel a strong need to focus on my charitable creations, so I made a start on another blanket using yet more yarn left over from previous projects. I decided to join up the squares as I went along:

But then, I got distracted and started rummaging around and pulling out my sock yarn scraps. These are too fine for the “squares blanket” above, but there are so many of them and the colours are so beautiful that I couldn’t help but start yet another :

I was trying to stick to one blanket at a time, but I’m quite happy to fail at that!

 

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.

 

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