Tuesday 26 February 2019

Spice for Life Blanket

This should been a long term stash busting project but it turned out to be such a row turner that the yarn was simply gobbled up night after night. I have really enjoyed making this blanket, it has been the most fulfilling project. One of my new years crafting resolutions eaten away as quickly as I made it.

These kind of blankets are always a little bonkers but I simply love making them. If they turnout really awful you can always donate them to a dog basket nearby. As it turned out, this one was a corker.

I thought that the little bit of orange I had in my original basket would end up being rejected but I found another whole ball of orange. I felt that if I could repeat orange within the overall blanket it would look more intentional rather than just one rogue stripe of orange and I am glad I used it now. I am normally a little frightened of yellow but again ensuring that it was evenly distributed on slimmer rows gave it a real colour lift.

I sewed the ends in at about every third point of the blanket so that it wasn't too daunting. Did I follow the pattern? A little bit here and there. Unfortunately,I started with more chains than the original pattern stated to get a bigger blanket but was then unable to use the waypoint stitch counts to keep me on track so there are some wobbly edges. I repeated my favourite stitch combinations and left some others after I had tried them once. I found out that I really like doing a V-stitch.

I don't mind the wobbly edge though, it is just for us to use as a TV blanket when we all sit down together. I did however rather enjoy making it in February. February is definitely the time to make a blanket. It kept me warm as I made it. 

For the border, I kept some yarn back. I used a granny stitch to give some movement on the uneven edge and stayed away from a double crochet edge which would have exacerbated the issue. The final row is crab stitch or reverse double crochet.

This is Bruce today not knowing that he was going to go to the dog groomers in an hours time. 

We had put him on a diet because we thought he was getting a bit chubby but...

...it turns out he was just really really hairy!

Anyway, The spice for life blanket is especially good as a stash busting choice because it is very versatile and you can dip in and out of the pattern and colour choices. I recommend it.

Are you stash busting? Stupid question really - you probably all are! Thanks for dropping in. Jo xxx

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Behind the Scenes

I am all out of fabulous crafting things to share but that is fine because we are working really hard on our new house. I have been paid working only two days a week for January and February which has enabled me to go on to our building site and do some manual labour (and make tea in really grubby mugs) for a couple of days each week.

Because we are self builders we have a range of people who work on our house. We do not have anyone who oversees it and we can't even call ourselves project managers because that would sound like we knew what we were doing but I try to coordinate materials for each person before they arrive and make sure everyone gets paid alongside doing some menial jobs myself in between.

I have been showing you snippets in my ing posts, usually a tantalising picture of something quite tidy and enticing which may suggest that we are nearly finished but in truth we are a couple of years away from completing this hobby house. The kitchen mostly looks like this: a fitted kitchen packed in boxes, a table with sticky cups, milk you have have to smell before you use it and soft biscuits which you still eat because the hard work makes you hungry.

We have windows but not a front or back door so it has been bitterly cold in January and early February. This is compounded by the super insulation so the cold air stays trapped inside the house. Some days when I am painting inside you can see my breath but the builders pointing the stonework outside are warmer than me! 

I can light the log burner but it is futile without the rest of the heating system which is not ready yet. We use it to huddle round at lunchtime when who over is on site comes in to sit on plastic chairs and eat sandwiches, chat, tease each other and make plans for what to tackle next. 

We only have temporary electrics so we have to have spot lights rigged up to see later on in the day. We only have an outside tap meaning we have to boil the kettle every time we want to wash our hands or in this case keep my hands warm enough to clean the grout from the lounge tiles with a bucket and sponge. I have done two coats of sealant on the tiles in the lounge and am finished here. 

But floor work continues with another room to prepare, the kitchen, needed a full tile clean. This time with brick acid - nasty stuff. My cousin and I wore masks, gloves and glasses as we worked with caustic acid. The girls stayed outside and made sure the dog didn't wander in. Another spot clean for the ones which need a bit more mortar removal tomorrow and then back on my knees to add the coats of sealant. It is not all choosing curtains and cushions just yet!

The girls ate their lunch on bar stools today and the dog ran off with a huge chunk of cake when we weren't looking but he mostly likes to sniff out mice in the old grain shed when we are there.

There is not a staircase at the moment, it is in the kitchen which gave me the chance to paint the hall and landing in one swoop. When we have laid the parquet floor the staircase can go back in. Currently, the only way to get upstairs is via a ladder. This makes painting upstairs a pain. Everything has to be passed up the ladder but painting is a job I can do while other things are being done which I can't do or when builders leave our build to go and work on another. I plod on with three coats on every bare plaster wall.

Outside is another matter. The exterior of the house is nearly complete so we will need to remove all excess/broken bricks, tiles and stone now that we know what is surplus to requirements. This mess irks me because it is on the road side of the house and looks unsightly to everyone but it will be sorted soon enough. 

There are moments of order. The office is fully painted, the window cill I showed you previously pointed up well with the piping bag. It looks lovely with the sealant finish. I spent four hours putting a desk together to check it fitted in the corner. I wanted it to be checked before the electrician adds plugs to the room. With a new build, you get a chance to uber plan where things go and limit trailing wires and light switches in the wrong places.

So you see, although I am painting, we are a long way from the end but we are trying to enjoy the process - a bit like when you crochet a blanket or knit a jumper. The process is important. It will be part of our lives and certainly part of our girls childhood memories. 

I have chosen today to show you a little update because a) this is mostly what I have been doing and b) we are at the momentous stage where the scaffolding comes down this week and our house will be revealed to us just a tiny bit more. We are taking the chance to admire the view from the top level of the scaffolding before it comes down and this is what it was like today.

I love and loathe building a house but the good far outweighs the bad, even if at present, the beautiful does not outweigh the ugly in visual terms.

This post was inspired by reading A Colourful life blog this week. Christina's mundane titled post reminded me that we are all doing something different and it isn't always 'blog beautiful' but sometimes 'blog interesting'.

Thanks for reading. Jo xxxxx

Friday 15 February 2019

Carolyn Pyjamas

The Carolyn Pyjama pattern is one fantastic pattern investment. It is an expensive choice to make but I have had such great fun with it. Early in the year I made a full version including piping, pockets, collars, cuffs and faux fly. I really got to know the pattern and I can report that the light lawn fabric was ideal for sleeping in. I loved making them so much that I immediately set about making a second pair. 

This time I used a cosy brushed cotton flannel and scaled down my style choices. I made the short sleeved and shorts version without piping and they flew together. Again another keeper. 

Everything about the pattern is what I want from a pair of pyjamas: thigh room, 38mm wide elastic waistband, a collar that sits flat and superb sizing throughout.

I don't need any more now that I have a long and short sleeved set but I know I will definitely be revisiting this in a few years time to restock my sleepwear drawer. This sort of investment in sewing time and materials is a great way to feel like you are really sewing long lasting items.

Thanks for stopping by. Jo xxx

PS. I know I have cut the monkeys upside down but I can live with little monkeys crawling up me instead of dangling down me!

Monday 11 February 2019


Making - A cosy cowl for my friend's 40th Birthday made from Colinette Iona yarn which is 70% wool, 15% kid mohair and 15% silk - so so soft. 

Learning - How to work short rows using a wrap and turn technique for this pattern from purl soho which is free here

Baking - A delicious but strange crumble using the last of our allotment frozen fruit.

Watching - Snowdrops pop up.

Building - Our new kitchen floor; cleaning those tiles from out of the hedge in the field was definitely worth it.

Buying - Kitchen wall tiles : cream metro ones.

Thinking - Our dog is cute but needs training.

Enjoying - A little sprinkling of snow which was pretty but not the sort that ruins your day, more the kind that enhances it.

Loving - My new clogs which Bloke bought me for my Birthday in January. They are from Lotta.

Wondering - Whether to try a toile of a swimsuit pattern so I can be sure to cut the right size.

Getting - In a mess but having a great time sewing. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. I am so lucky to have a spare room to leave this all spread out in.

Watching - Someone try really hard with spelling. Little M labelled my freezer cook up boxes for me on Saturday.

Disliking - Politics at the moment.

Wearing - My new Linden Sweatshirt for this months Minerva blogger network.

 Deciding - Which wool to use and which wool to leave out of my spice for life blanket. 

Feeling - Happy :) but chilly.

PS. If you visit here through google+ I would love you to continue following in some way when Google+ stops comments from 19th February. You can do this by following me on Bloglovin'. You get the same alerts and there are some great blogs to follow on Bloglovin' in the crafts and DIY section. You can use the link on the left if you are already signed up.

Jo xxxx

Tuesday 5 February 2019

The Resolution Blanket Begins

I have started my Spice for Life stash busting blanket for 2019. It is going well, when I say that, I mean 'well' for me: I don't have the right stitch count and it might all go extremely wrong but I will cross that bridge when I come to it!

I like the variety of stitches and colours. I am feeling my way with the colours and might have to leave out some that I have selected. I have selected some not on colour, but simply because I have a bit of a ball left over so I need to be prepared to change my mind. 

I have a lot of balls of DK to use. All donated wool from people who know I knit and crochet. It is a curse and a blessing all rolled into one. You have to take the rough with the smooth; the good with the ugly and the dull with the true gems - that is just the risk you take when you say, "Oooh thank you, that would be lovely!"

That orange is troubling me, especially now that I have seen it on a photo so he might be the first casualty. The amount of ends to weave in is already unsettling so I am going to do a chunk at a time and not leave it until the end.

On the whole, I am a happy bunny with an easy crochet project to pick up and put down as the year rolls on.

Are you crocheting something colourful?
Jo xxxxx

Monday 4 February 2019

No Party Dresses Here

My fabric shelf was starting to become very uninspiring, too many bits of this and that, not enough to actually do anything with so I decided to do what any crazy woman would do and get it all out on the bed and have a bit of an audit.

I made a wonderful top from this stretch velvet which was an absolutely brilliant party top for over Christmas and winter, however, the fabric was so nice (and expensive) that I didn't want to throw any of it away leaving me with funny shaped pieces of uselessness. Time to get thinking...

First up, there was enough for a pair of leggings. Little M loved them and said they felt really silky on the inside. So far so good.

Next, I found some navy Cadiz jersey left overs and decided to make a tunic. I have made this for my girls many times before from my all time favourite edition of the Ottobre magazine. It is called the zig zag top.

With some careful cutting, ensuring that the stretch was going the right way, I made her a full comfy set. It looks divine don't you agree?

She wore it to watch our local Amateur dramatics pantomime with her brownie pack. It is also the ideal set to wear to a party which nowadays rarely requires a party dress. 

She was freezing. Quick Meg, get your cardy on.
Her big sister made her a scrunchie to match;only tiny slivers went in the bin. 

I am a totally satisfied stashbuster today. Thanks for dropping in.. Jo xxxx