Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Bathroom is Finished

After almost five years between houses, living in rented accommodation, it is great to have a white bathroom. If you've ever rented, you will probably know what I mean. In our previous house, there was a carpet in the bathroom which had seen better days. If I'd owned the house, it would have been ripped out immediately, but because it was rented, it had to be nursed along.

We're a bit campervan mad in our house. This picture is a framed tea-towel: a very inexpensive way of getting a picture since tea-towels come in the most weird and wonderful designs. I've noticed that price inflation on prints seems to be running away with itself. I'm happy to support local artists, but I'm not paying £20 for a non-original print which has just been run off on a laser printer.

The absolute best thing about this bathroom is the smell. No more mouldy carpets, and dampness in the bathroom cabinets. This bathroom smells of my home made soap. Here are a few hearts of it, sitting in the first basket I made. Basket weaving is a bit like crochet in its repetitiveness. I went on a one day course to learn it.  Technique is easy to understand but difficult to master, and get the "stitches" even. Evidence above: the wonky basket.

On the shelf here are a couple of crochet face-cloths. Other people use these in the kitchen but I find that they are soft enough for face washing. Must be made in pure cotton: chain enough stitches for the size required (about a normal facecloth) and then row after row of whatever you prefer - treble
for these. Sometimes I finish them with a scallop or picot edge, but these are plain.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


I'm wearing 3 holey cardigans; the heating is at max; the cats are asleep along the tops of radiators; Mr Frosty smiles at us through the window.
"Can I bring Mr Frosty in?", says the toddler, "He's cold!".

I've been trying to knit again. I tried knitting gloves last year using double pointed needles, and after a few reverses back over the stitches I'd just knitted, I gave up.
"What are you knitting?", said the woman in the wool shop,as I bought a huge amount of wool for a blanket."I can't knit! - it is much too stressful!", I shouted, and then as she took a step back from me with a "nutter!" look in her eyes, I calmly said "I crochet."

So after trying out circular needles this weekend to try to knit gloves again, all I can say is that enough is enough. I'll go nuts if I try to knit again - too much can go wrong all at once - whole rows falling off the needles. At least with crochet, you can only go one stitch wrong at a time. So never again. I crochet only from now on

Sunday, 21 November 2010

First Christmas Decorations are Up

I'll have to whisper this in case Santa hears and sends my presents back to the North Pole - I hate putting up Christmas decorations. Everyone else is keen to "get the decorations up" but after they've put the 100th ball on the tree, their enthusiasm starts to slow, and I end up adding red bauble, red bauble, silver bauble....ad infinitum it seems.

So this year I have a plan. I'm sneaking the decorations up one or two at a time. Here are the first - a little wooden heart with a Santa brought home recently by my Mum from Germany.

And here's a simple home made one, seen here hanging on its bird friends who sit on my desk. It is a little cut out of cardboard bird made from instructions in Country Living. Really, it is very simple - cut out a bird shape from cardboard - best if you have any tame children to draw it for you - then you can claim the imperfections as "charming" rather than just a rubbish bird shape.
Then make a little horizontal slit where wings attach to body, and poke a little folded up fan of paper through. Then tie on something to hang it up with. Make it as fancy or plain as time and finances allow.

I Spy a Wooden Floor

Now, my dad should know better by now: "Don't dare rip up that good carpet!", he said.
Hmmm. He would have been better saying "That carpet is disgusting - old fashioned and dirty - get it ripped out immediately!" I never do what I'm told.

Now look away if you have a sensitive disposition - here is my old carpet. Perfectly nice when installed sometime in the 1980's around the time of the first Royal Wedding.

I spy under the carpet a rather nice wooden floor.

So, here I am decorating the livingroom. Stripping wallpaper is evil work, especially when the paper was vinyl, and it is essentially a top layer of stretchy plastic. It seems to create a very gloopy sticky papier mache. You can tell what I've decided to do with the carpet by the fact there are no dust-sheets down.

Beginner's Crochet Wristwarmers

So, you have a wool bag of old scraps of wool, little balls of wool too small to make anything. What can you make?

Something to keep your hands warm.

Here are my new wristwarmers. The "pattern" is so simple, that a complete crochet beginner could do this. I'd like a cashmere pair of these from Brora, but at £40-£50 pounds, I'm scared I'd lose them, so each winter, I make a few pairs of these.

Last year I did have cashmere home-made ones, lime-olive, as I call the colour - about the same colour as the pale green in these new ones. In Bruges, I washed them, and horror - tumble dried them - they made good pan scourers after that. Moral of the story - don't use unfamililar tumble driers.

Now, as Mr Prim likes to point out, I do have unnaturaly long fingers, so I don't want you to make them the same size as mine, because it is likely that they would be too big. I'll explain how you can make them the right size for you.

These ones, took 44g of wool. I know that because I weighed them on my kitchen scales. So a 50g ball of wool should make 1 pair. I used Rowan double knit wool.

I used a 5mm hook and cast on 30 stitches, but as I've said, I have unnatural hands. To make them your size, make a crochet chain which fits snugly around your hand between your knuckle joint and the first joint on your finger. You want to make sure that the bit of the glove which sits at the top of your hand is quite snug. Too tight and it will be annoying, and too loose and it will flap around. So make it snug but not too tight, and then chain another 2.

My initial chain was 28 plus 2 = 30, so the next row was 28 crochet stitches. If you want me to guess an "average" female hand, I'd say 25 plus 2.

The beauty of these wristwarmers is that all you are doing is crocheting a rectangle. You can use any crochet stitch you fancy. I used a half treble, but you could use double, treble, a shell stitch, like my ill-fated Bruges cashmere ones, or anything else which takes your fancy. You can make them in huge biggy wool (but they'll make your hands look huge) or you can make them in a very fine ply (which will take forever). Just make an initial pair in any old wool you have, so that you can see if you like them.

So you have your 28 stitches, or whatever is right for you, and you just keep going up, until you have the right length for your hand. Just keep counting the number of stitches in the row now and again. I crochet a lot, and I still make pyramid shapes when my concentration lapses, and I forget to count. Here's another wristwarmer, ready to be sewn up, just to give you an idea of the shape you are looking for.

Once they reach the correct length, sew in the ends which is tedious if you have made colour change ones like me, and then turn the crochet right sides together, into a glove shaped tube, and sew up, leaving about a 4 cm gap for the thumb-hole.
You can get a bit fancy,and do a single or double crochet round the thumb hole, or round the top and bottom. You could do a fancy border if you know how to do that.

Really, the beauty of this "pattern" is that you just make it up as you go along.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Big Granny gets bigger and then smaller

The big granny was just a little bit too small for my double size bed. It just covered the bed plus another few inches on each side. That looks ok in photographs but in practice, in the morning I often find it bunched in the middle of the bed. It needs more of an overhang.

Problem One with the big granny is that the wool is quite expensive. Each round is currently costing about £4 and it can only get worse as the big granny gets bigger.

Problem Two with the big granny is that I finished it with 3 rounds of red, and now that I want to make it bigger, I should really rip out 2 rounds of red, and then start again with single colour rounds. I've almost put two new complete rounds of lilac on, and they don't look right, so off the come. Four rounds coming off.

Problem Three is that I have only red and lilac now, so need to get at least another 2 or 3 colours - shhhh - don't tell Mr Prim :) As my teenage daughter says "You don't actually NEED more wool! You just WANT it." Hmmm. How can I argue with that?

Where were all the Spooks?

What happened to all the spooks and witches this year? We bought in lots of little spooky sweets, put the pumpkin on the doorstep to show we were spook friendly, and waited, and waited.....
Nothing! No spooks! No witches!