Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Summer 2020














Well.....we continue with a weird 2020

Summer........what can I say?





I cannot report that I have done much this Summer. Being either at home on lockdown, or at work.....that's pretty much it. Two places for the last few months. No taking advantage of some glorious weather, getting out and sight seeing.

Nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. However, I know it's been pretty much the same for everybody.





For the first time in what feels like years, we paid particular attention to the garden. It just hadn't been a priority. Our Garden is really no bigger than the size of a postage stamp, so it shouldn't be that difficult to sort and maintain, but for some reason it was just neglected. A small greenhouse was bought, and seeds were planted. It's been the first year we actually had colour in the garden for such a long time. 







The hydrangeas were a particular beauty this year. They really took my breath away. My soil naturally turns the flowers pink, even when I buy blue hydrangeas which are my favourite, So I add more acid to the soil with a Hydrangea Colourant (available in most Garden Centres) and goodness me, they really put on a show this year. The most gorgeous shades of pink, pale lilac to the deepest blue. I picked so many to dry and almost everyone failed......except for three heads which seemed to dry well and retain their gorgeous blue shade. All the others I failed to dry well, I turned into confetti and stored in Mason Ball jars. Goodness knows what I'll do with them, but they were just too pretty to toss on the compost heap.













I grew my first Sweet Peas. Semi success. I planted too many together and they were a bit stunted. Never the less, I got to pick quite a few posies for little vases, and they made me so happy. New rose bushes were planted, I got a second wave of roses this year which thrilled me.......and I finally got some foxgloves in the garden. I have a list of plants I want to grow, and I just have a couple more that I want to get in the ground for next year.

















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Creatively wise, I have almost finished my third blanket of the year. No more blankets.....for this year anyway. I did donate several of my early blankets to charity just before lockdown. It felt good to create space, but it felt like losing a part of me. I have yet to make a medium or small blanket. The blankets I end up making take up such a huge amount of my time. There are often quite a few memories woven in, so it's strange to just let them go. It's like letting go of a piece of your life.





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The last few months on a personal level have been quite tough. My frame of mind could quite simply be described as one of quiet chaos. I've found it hard to settle on anything and focus well. My grief at the loss of my brother is still very much apparent and pretty much still consumes my day. The blanket making has helped to an extent. It has managed to keep me level, but I have no real 'peace' at the moment. I'm working through things little by little, but I'm aware that it's going to take some time.....and I'm okay with that. Slowly but surely wins the race and all.



❤❤❤




I am just finishing sewing in the final ends of my blanket started in my previous post. I started it at the beginning of 'Lockdown' at the end of March. It was a simplified version of the Irish Chain Quilt Crochet Blanket I completed. I don't know why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to make another one. As I explained in my last post.....the only blanket I had ever actually planned......and I still got it terribly wrong! It was okay, I just had to scale it back on repeat rows. It's big.....it's warm.....it's pretty......and I should really really love it......


.....but I can't say that I do.






For some reason it just didn't live up to the wonderful expectations I had in my head. The yarn palette was so pretty......it should have been so gorgeous. Don't get me wrong, it is pretty for sure.....but I think I was expecting it to have that 'WOW' factor......and it just fell short.

Perhaps I felt a little deflated with it......because half way through making the blanket......I started another one!!!!! I'm not sure why I did. I usually am a one project at a time kind of girl.














I had some yarn that I had wanted to make a blanket with. The yarn I had was was Drops Puna. It's one of my favourite yarns. I seem to use it a lot. It has a lovely vintage quality to it. I had bought the off white colour (which is actually more of a light wheat kind of shade). I knew I wanted it to be a lovely vintage style blanket but I had yet to find the perfect granny square. I had tried a few but none felt right. Then one day on a random search I stumbled across a square that looked perfect for the yarn. I made up a square and knew in an instant that I had found the one. Once the brain goes into overdrive, I had to put the other blanket down and crochet away with this new one.





OH MY WORD. I loved loved loved making this blanket. It's definitely got the 'WOW' factor for me. I couldn't get enough of this blanket. It just seemed so perfect in every way. Very very warm. Very vintage looking. It looked perfect on my bed. It was just one of those projects that wasn't at all planned but ended up exceeding all my expectations.


 I truly love it.

So it seems, the unplanned blanket was a tremendous hit and the only ever planned blanket feel short of all expectations.


As usual, I'm quite pants with recording all the details of blankets that I make. The Drops Puna I had bought when it was on sale and I bought 20 50g balls. I literally found the granny square I wanted to crochet ( this one ) and crocheted until I pretty much just had a couple of balls left. I used those to do a border using a row of the granny square and then a puffed scallop to finish. It's a heavy blanket. Very warm. The pup takes every opportunity to fall asleep on it when she can.





























It really is such a pretty blanket. I really would love to make another one, in a pale grey. But enough for now!

Back to the Irish Chain Blanket.....






I do like it. It actually goes well on the bed with the current bedding. It's warm and it'll get plenty of use that's for sure. I did have a piece of paper with all my workings on. I sized the squares, weighed the squares, worked out the yarn quantities, and thought I was doing so well. Now I cannot for the life of me find any of the information. If I find it and get my act together, I'll put it all up on Ravelry with more information. Seriously it's shocking how rubbish I am at recording stuff. I envy the organised!


I haven't even named my blankets yet. I always name my blankets! I'll think on it.



Oh well. Three blankets down this year and I'm done with them (I say that...and at the time of typing this, I REALLY mean it....but come on.....this is me after all!). I have a couple of sewing projects that I want to turn my attention to. It was supposed to FINALLY be sock knitting time......but I just don't think my brain can cope with the whole new learning curve of it. So I think sewing is the way forward which will continue to help with soothing my soul.

I am thinking that I'd quite like to make this though.......




It's the 'Sporty Poncho' by Amanda Tipton

The pattern is available on Ravelry.

I have some pretty yarn that I think would work well with this for the colder months. 

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I have continued to bake throughout Lockdown. I have continued to put on weight. Once again, My brain will have to deal with sorting that out when it's in a better coping mode.



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I had fun making myself some progress markers. I realised whilst making the blankets, just how few progress keepers I actually had. I had made myself a few necklaces using semi precious stones. I don't know why, I just woke up one day and felt a strong urge to make myself some. I find Rose Quartz and Amazonite in particular incredibly soothing for my soul. As I had everything to hand, I made a few progress keepers using semi precious stones, and pearls and some pretty charms. I'm all set now, and happy to do a bit of creativity that wasn't crochet based.


Pumpkins are starting to make a re-appearance and more are being painted. I think this year I may have gone a little pumpkin overboard. Making up for lost time I am telling myself.













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So the Summer moves along into Autumn. The mornings have a nip in the air but the days are still warm and relatively balmy. You can feel nature starting to feel a bit weary after its big Summer show. The feeling of slumber is apparent. I have loved the long days of Summer. Pup has loved the long days of Summer for sure. 










I do like this transition of seasons though. I have dug out all my Autumnal candles (and possibly added a few more!). There is nothing nicer than a house smelling of apple & cinnamon and pumpkin spice. It really is heavenly.




This pink pumpkin was one I painted last year. It's a real squash I bought from the store and painted pink. All the other fresh ones I painted lasted a month or so, but for some reason, this little pumpkin has lasted all year. Only in the last couple of weeks did the paint start to chip. Just in time for me to paint a few new pumpkins!







Jumpers and cosy wraps have made their way to the forefront of the wardrobes and I'm deciding which blankets will go on which beds this year.


I treated myself to a new Autumn jacket.



(It's from here and I got in when it was on a special offer)



It had to be done. It was literally screaming my name. I just need to make some pretty wrist warmers and scarf now, and that excites me. Not that I actually NEED anymore accessories. I'm sure I can find something that I've made in the past that matches perfectly......but new season new accessories! Hats are in my mind too. I made a couple of pretty hats last winter that were real winners, especially on cold morning dog walks. I have an itch to make yet another. Ridiculous I know. 




I have a list of things that need to be done around the house, but my motivation for things like that is still pretty much at rock bottom (not that it was ever very good on the best of days). Again, I'm not beating myself up about it all. I am letting go of all my control freakery this year and accepting things for where they are in my life. Hopefully, by the start of next year, I might have a bit more peace in my head to tackle more.

I head into Autumn with as much a sense of calm as I can at the moment. Let's see where it takes me. As I publish this, there are fears we, in the UK, are heading for a second lockdown. Goodness me, what a year.

So, for now, I bid you adieu, and hope that your Autumn is filled with sweet smelling spice and all things creative.



XXX












Friday, 24 April 2020

Spring 2020......








Well......who'd have thought 2020 would turn out to be like this? A year not easily to be forgotten that's for sure.


I walked into 2020 with such a heavy heart. Trying to deal with the grief of the loss of my brother has weighed so heavy on my soul. My new companion, Minnie, and my crafty love managed to drag me into 2020 with a little more lightness. Getting out for walks with her everyday lifted my mood......and of course, making accessories to cope with the outdoor winter weather helped no end. I did make rather a lot of hats! Worth their weight in gold I can tell you.







I used this pattern here if you are interested




As I write, we are still in the midst of lockdown of sorts. Four weeks now of utter anxiety, uncertainty and weirdness.




Whilst all in my little bubble are at home and some working from home, I am classed as a key worker ....so my days are still the same, but not the same. Just add a big dollop of stress and that's about it.

On my days off, I have been trying to just be calm and focus on all the things that make me happy. Crochet of course! I made a start on a blanket.....obviously a blanket....what else could I possibly think of doing?!

A picture on Pinterest caught my eye. I wished it hadn't........but you know......once you see something and it embeds in your memory, it's a hard thing to ignore. Ignore it I tried, because it was VERY similar to a blanket that almost killed me to make. It just wouldn't go from my head. It was an Irish Chain Quilt pattern. I made a crochet version of an Irish Chain Quilt that I had seen Alicia Paulson make on her blog. I can't sew. I loved the pattern, and I loved the colours and it was basically squares joined together. Easy peasy crochet then. The problem was the vast amount of squares. If you have read this blog for a while, you know that me and small blankets just aren't a thing. I kid myself it's because I want them big enough for all the family to snuggle under. Whilst the family have had MANY a snuggle together under my blankets, the real answer is that I'm utterly pants at planning, and the blankets just always end up huge because I have no size awareness.

The first blanket took forever, and I DID NOT enjoy it's process......HOWEVER, I utterly loved the result. You can be reminded of it with the snippets from this post . 







I don't think I ever managed to photograph this blanket in all it's glory. It does deserve a post all of its own really. I should do that. The blanket still has a thread hanging from it as I couldn't decide whether to make a border for it. I still can't! It was a bit like having a baby. The birthing process is incredibly unpleasant, but you soon forget about all the pain when you stare at something so beautiful. 

Well, I must have forgotten about all the pain, because sure enough, I wanted to make another one. The new blanket was slightly easier. Less squares in the pattern, bigger squares. This time also.......
I WAS GOING TO PLAN IT!!!!! 

I had wanted a very soft and pastel blanket. I was loving the colours on the ZARA HOME website.....mainly in their kids section. I'm still very much needing the calm of pastels and soft hues. That sealed it for me. I worked up several sized squares, planned how many squares I would need, and what the sizes would be with each square to get the right size blanket. I then weighed the yarn amounts for each square to get an idea of the yarn quantities I would need to order. That way I wouldn't do my usual of not enough yarn and dye lot issues. Chart mapped out. Yarn ordered. A VERY excited me.



I felt so smug I can tell you. After years of never planning any blankets, this was my first. I was actually doing everything right.

Except I wasn't

It was pretty clear after the first two rows that my blanket was going to be another HUGE one. I hadn't planned on a really small one, but I hadn't planned on a huge one either. Seriously, even when I plan, I can't do it right! Just goes to show! Not sure how on earth I managed to get it so wrong.

It wasn't total chaos. I just made the width into the length (as the pattern allowed me to work it like that) and then cut off quite a few planned rows. It's fine. The pattern still works. I just worked it that I'd lose a couple of repeat rows. I just had a fair bit of leftover yarn now!!!!!!!









So....on the lockdown days, I had been calming my anxiety with this blanket. I was loving making it. No stress. Really enjoying it. Then I suddenly decided that Minnie, my sweet puppy, needed her own blanket ASAP. It was always my plan to make her a blanket of her own, but for some reason, it needed to be now.....and I had plenty of leftover yarn!




I think she gave me her seal of approval. At every opportunity when I had it on my lap, she was on me....on it.






The beautiful weather on the lockdown has helped enormously. The puppy has really blossomed and has loved just being with me sitting in the garden whilst I work away on her blanket. I have soaked up her comfort. She has been such a tonic over these last few months helping with my grief.







Ahhhhhhh just look at those colours. that just brings me so much happiness. My last few blankets have been in these shades. I feel like I really need them at the moment. They are soothing, and calming, and they scream comfort and big enveloping hugs.




Easter came and went. A strange one. I have (like us all) struggled with not seeing my outer family. However, technology is a wonderful thing. My mum and I have been replacing our coffee mornings with virtual Facetime coffee mornings. We grab a coffee and then have a Facetime chat catching up with the news and showing each other our latest projects. It makes all this bearable.

It has been hard having everyone on top of each other at home all the time. Our tiny little home is bursting to the brim. Finding somewhere to have a quiet few minutes is nigh on impossible. Trying to homeschool is a challenge. The lovely weather has meant at least I can sit outside and work a few rows of crochet. I am thankful for our tiny little garden space. It is really just the size of a postage stamp, but I have never been more grateful for it.






Whilst being drawn to the soothing and the pastels, I started playing around with my beads again. I haven't dipped into them for such a long time, but I wanted had a real urge to have Rose Quartz and Amazonite around my neck and wrists again. Those have always been my favourites to work with. I don't know if it's the placebo effect, but I find them so calming. When I wear anything that has the stones in, I feel very calm. When I am anxious or stressed I like to have something around my neck that I can just stroke with my hands. The colours of Amazonite and Rose Quartz have always featured heavily in my home colours and in my crafting. Can you tell?!!!!





Actually, the necklaces I made in this picture aren't either of those gemstones, but I have loved making and wearing them. I wanted really long necklaces and didn't have enough of either beads to create something so long so these made do. I have more beads on order and I'm super excited to get them and get beady creative.

I have a couple of knitting projects that I would like to start after I finish the two blankets. I realise that I need more stitch markers.....so my plan is to make myself some gemstone stitch markers. I would like to carry the calmness over into my knitting. Heaven knows I think I'm going to need all the calm I can get. Knitting just doesn't come easily to me. Maybe if I actually spent a good portion of my time knitting and trying to get better at it, that might help me!





I have baked a fair bit. 

I have also put on a fair bit of weight that has come with aforementioned baking. 




It's actually annoying that it's turning out so well. I would have given up if my fist attempt would have been awful. Bread is my complete downfall. Warm, crusty bread with melted butter. Hummmmmmm bliss. Not bliss for the old waistline. Need to do something about that soon. The Bears are very happy with my daily bread making arrangement, but they are just not quick enough to beat me to the first few (or ten) slices each day!















So.....that is my Spring. Two blankets in the making. Weird days. and other bits and pieces planned for the summer. If lockdown continues for a much greater length of time, I may be even more productive than I could have ever imagined.












Lets see what Summer 2020 holds........

Take care and stay safe everyone.


XXX