A slight obsession with books

Reading and Fibrecrafts


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CAL – Last dance on the beach #15

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs. As I’m struggling to find time to do any cross stitch, plus keep up with all the crochet that I’m doing, I’m going to use these posts for the Last Dance on the beach blankets. That’ll make sure that I finish them, and then I can get back to some stitching.

Last time I finished the squares for the Rain blanket which was a huge milestone. This time I’ve finished the last squares for the Stars blanket! Whoo hoo.

stars-wk12That’s all the squares done for both blankets now. I am so chuffed!

As you can see, once again I decided not to go with the scheduled square and did one of the previous squares. I think this one, the corner to corner square, was probably my favourite to crochet. it’s so easy to do and works up so quickly.

The Stars blanket is definitely going to be colourful. This is all 48 squares, sitting in their piles.

stars-12-weeksPretty, yes? So, while I’d got them all out, I got some paper out and labeled each square with its week number to make it easier to lay them out in the right order. The instructions come with a chart for how to do that and it’s very random so I needed to make it as easy as possible.

Once I’d done that, out of curiosity, I laid it all out on the floor. Just to see what it would look like.

stars-12-weeks-aAnd then, I somehow found myself with a crochet hook in hand, doing the zipper stitch to join the squares together. I haven’t finished the joining, but I have done all the vertical joins and two of the horizontal joins. It looks quite good.

stars-join01It feels about three times larger than it actually is when you’re joining it as all the squares are on your lap at the same time but are all trying to go in different directions. I’ve been using stitch markers to hold the squares together, while doing the vertical joins, to stop them twisting as otherwise they flap about all over the place. The stitch itself is easy peasy, but wrangling the blanket is not. There’s not much more joining to do though so there’s every chance there’ll be a finish for the next update as I only have the border to whack on next.

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:

AvisClaireGunLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusan,
 Kathy MargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherine,  Wendy

Not everyone does an update each time, but their blogs are always worth a visit.


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Fat bottomed bags

When I first started the Last dance on the beach CAL, I took a look around the website of the original designer. The CAL was in her memory and her website, with all its inspiration, was still up for people to enjoy. I found a pattern on there for a bag that looked so pretty that I filed it away for future use and a few months ago, decided to make two of them for birthday presents.

It wasn’t a difficult design and the instructions were clear so I felt fairly confident although it was something that I hadn’t tried before as it combined crochet and sewing with a bit of decoration.

These are some of the bits and bobs from my stash, although I changed my mind on the lining fabric before starting the bag.

blue05Obviously there was yarn as well, but I’d already started crocheting before I thought to take a photo.

First I needed to crochet a granny square. For the pink bag I did a solid square but I went with a more open square for the blue bag.

blue04Next it needed to be lined, which was a bit trickier than I’d anticipated but once I’d got my walking foot on, my sewing machine coped nicely.

blue06The next stage was to add lace. Whatever lace I wanted and as much as I wanted. I did the two bags slightly  differently to keep it interesting. This is the lace on the flat square.

blue07Once that was done it was just a case of putting some crochet on the non-lace edges and then the lacy edges, which enclosed the handles.

That made the structure of the bag so then came the really fun bit, which was adding the ribbons, beads and crocheted flowers with button centres.

blue02 blue01And the finished bag –

blue03And, this is the pink one, details first –

pink02 pink01The lining –

pink03And, the finished bag –

pink04They were fun to make and quite easy and hopefully my friends liked them 🙂

 

 


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Temperature blanket #1

My blanket is coming on nicely. I’ve managed to keep up with doing a hexie each day without any problems. I’m getting faster at doing them too. I am getting to the point where I’d quite like to use some other colours though. I was chuffed to bits on the one day in January when the temperature reached the range that I’ve allocated to Violet, but sadly that was the only one so the lone Violet hexie looks a bit lonely.

01hexiesjanIt’s about 20″ across now so is growing nicely. It looks a bit lop-sided but that’s because I’m part way through the fourth round.

Fingers crossed that we get a bit more variation in the temperatures in February. That Violet hexie would really love some company 🙂


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CAL – Last dance on the beach #14

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs. As I’m struggling to find time to do any cross stitch, plus keep up with all the crochet that I’m doing, I’m going to use these posts for the Last Dance on the beach blankets. That’ll make sure that I finish them, and then I can get back to some stitching.

Last time I said that I was hoping to complete the squares for the Rain blanket, and I’m doing a wee happy dance because I’ve done just that.

rain-wk12Four lovely waffley squares for week twelve making a total of 48 squares altogether.

rain-12-weeksI’m itching to do the joins on them now but I also really want to finish the Stars squares too. Decisions…

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:

AvisClaireGunLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusan,
 Kathy MargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherine,  Wendy

Not everyone does an update each time, but their blogs are always worth a visit.


13 Comments

Temperature blanket

I’ve seen the odd mention of temperature blankets recently but didn’t really know what one was. Then, one of  my friends said she was going to do one, so I looked into it.

They sound interesting. You split a temperature range into sections and select a yarn colour for each section. Then, you do a row of your blanket each day, picking the colour according to the high temperature of that day. You get a lovely random striping effect that’s designed by the year’s temperatures.

A couple more of my friends said they might do one too and I was getting more and more tempted. Bear in mind that I currently have two Last Dance blankets in progress, plus one Carousel and a Ripple. (also a secret project that I can’t talk about, Ssshhhh)

Eventually I gave in to temptation but with a twist. I thought it’d be fun to do it in hexagons, working out from the centre in a spiral. Usually the blankets are done for a full year, but I’m just going to keep going until it’s the right size. I can do a hexagon, including join-as-you-go in under 20 minutes so it’s not a big commitment.

Traditionally they’re done in a range of colours going from icy greys, through blues, greens, yellows, oranges and red to denote the changing temperature but I wanted to use the lovely Stylecraft Batik that I’m making the Carousel with. There are enough colours to do that but I was imagining one done that shaded from grey through grey-blues to purples, pinks and red so I’m just using eight colours. I’m also using the local temperature at noon each day rather than the high temperature.

These are the colours that I’ve chosen.temp-colour-rangeGraphite (below 0°)
Storm (0 – 5°)
Indigo (6 – 10°)
Violet (11 – 15°)
Heather (16 – 20°)
Plum (21 – 25°)
Raspberry (26 – 30°)
Cherry (over 30°)

I’m not anticipating using much cherry 🙂

The hexagon pattern I’m using is based on one on Attic24 Lucy’s blog. I’ve changed the centre section because I like starting circles with a finger wrap and dc.temp-01

The green stitch marker is the centre hexagon and I’m marking the edge of the last one added with a purple marker so I don’t get confused. I was overjoyed on Wednesday when the temperature managed to get high enough to use the violet as I was getting desperate to use a different colour.

I’m loving it so far. The hexies are quick and easy to do and it’s growing nicely. I’m even contemplating another one once this one is finished. I’m thinking these hexies would look lovely in two colours, one for the temperature and one for the general weather – windy, rainy, cloudy, sunny etc.


33 Comments

CAL – Last dance on the beach #13

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs. As I’m struggling to find time to do any cross stitch, plus keep up with all the crochet that I’m doing, I’m going to use these posts for the Last Dance on the beach blankets. That’ll make sure that I finish them, and then I can get back to some stitching.

I haven’t made a lot of progress since the last SAL update. I managed to get the last red bobble square done, but it seemed to take ages as I was getting a bit bored with bobbles.stars-wk11a

Then I started the final week’s squares. I could tell straight away that they’d be slow going. Each row consists of groups of half-trebles alternating with groups of slip stitches, making very shallow rows. Also, all the stitches are worked into the back loop, which is slightly more time-consuming.

The first square got about half done and had to be frogged as it was too small. I went up a whole hook size and started a second square, which again turned out to be too small. I increased the hook size and started again but it still wasn’t right. By this time, not only had I spent hours with nothing to show for it, but I was already finding the squares tedious, with eight still to go.

I’d had enough of square twelve by this point so rummaged through the previous squares to see which ones I’d enjoyed the most. It was a toss-up between the basketweave and the corner to corner so I’m doing the Rain blanket in basketweave and I may switch to corner to corner for Stars.

Basketweave is fairly quick to do compared to some of the others but with so much time wasted messing about with the other square, I only found time to do one of them.rain-wk12a

Hopefully I can get at least the next three of these done for the next update.

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:

AvisClaireGunLucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbieroseChristinaSusan,
 Kathy MargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherine,  Wendy

Not everyone does an update each time, but their blogs are always worth a visit.


22 Comments

2016 roundup

Working full-time has definitely stopped me from doing as much crafting and reading as I wanted. That and tending an ever-expanding vegetable garden. I did find some spare time though – this is what I achieved.

Cross stitch:

I had four finishes, Douceur de vivre, African sampler, Rose boudoir and Garden cat. I still have several in progress but as crochet seems to have taken over at the moment, they haven’t seen the light of day for a few months. Maybe soon.

Crochet:

I have no finishes this year,  but I did make some progress on the Ripple blanket before putting that away to work on two Last dance on the beach blankets. Progress on those got stalled when I fell in love with a new CAL – Carousel. The good news is that both of the Last dance blankets, plus Carousel, are very close to being finished. Once they’re done I can hopefully carry on with Ripple and think about starting Log cabin, which I bought the kit for. Then I need to use some of the huge stash of yarn that I’ve bought at Aldi whenever they had some in. I have about a dozen 400g balls of Aran plus some DK. I really mustn’t start any more CALs with kits until I’ve got my stash down a bit.

Sewing:

No finishes this year but I did make good progress on a small quilt for Rosie. I’ve started quilting it so there’s a good chance that I’ll get it finished this year. I’ve got several sewing projects to do so I’m hoping to find the energy to make a start on some of them soon.

Rosie's quilt - 06

Reading:

My Goodreads challenge for 2016 was to read 100 books and I just beat that with 106. Mostly they were on the Kindle plus 12 audiobooks and apart from two library books, the rest were from my TBR pile. I averaged 339 pages per book so even though there were quite a few shorts in there, the chunkier books balanced that out.

Some of my best finds were on Audible. I listened to the Silo trilogy by Hugh Howey and loved them. I also listened to Ready player one by Ernest Kline. It was narrated by Will Weaton, who did a brilliant job, and I really enjoyed the book. I shall definitely be looking out for more by both authors.

Apart from those and maybe a couple more, I stuck to familiar ground and comfort reading. I’m hoping to challenge myself a little more this year and read some contemporary fiction and maybe a couple more classics.

Gardening:

This year there will be very little in the way of gardening, which will hopefully make time for some more crafting. Although I enjoyed having a vegetable garden, my health isn’t up to the work involved at the moment. As well as needing a knee replacement, possibly two, my back isn’t great and I’ve just been diagnosed with sciatica. People keep telling me how painful that is. Oddly enough, I do know 🙂

I have plans to make the garden a lot less time-consuming and we’re starting by clearing most of it in order to have a new cat enclosure built. (when I say we, I do mean Stephen of course). The new enclosure is being custom-made, will be attached to the house and will be like an adventure playground for the cats. I cannot wait to see their reaction to being able to stroll out the back door and play.

I’m very grateful to the SAL which is run by Avis and Claire as it gave me a nudge to get some crafting done on several occasions lest I have nothing to post. We have lots more SAL members now too, so every three weeks there are lots of lovely projects to look at. It’s a great idea and super fun.

So, the plan for this year is to finish some of my existing projects and hopefully start some new and exciting ones. Yes, cat quilts, I’m looking at you!