:: Springtime crochet happiness::

Hello and Happy Saturday everyone!!

What a happy Saturday morning it is the Hayloft household today. The sun is shining, with the promise of snow on it’s way and it feels like Springtime making me feel full of happiness and hope. It is such a lovely feeling, after a tough week teaching, to feel the sun on your face, feel the spring chill in the air and see the bulbs and plants slowly unfurling back from their wintery sleep.  But the best reason for my Springtime happiness is the delivery of my Springtime Crochet project; my beautiful Peruvian wool arrived from Deramores this morning.

Would you like a peep?

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 Isn’t it exciting? Such a delight to see the amazingly vivid and rich rainbow of colours, I just had to share my glee and delight with you. It gives me such happiness.

I’m going to use all of these beautiful 24 colours to make my crochet poncho, as I mentioned in this post, and I have many ideas for the design of it. I’m dreaming of lovely stripes and textures that will make my heart ZING! And keep me warm in the chilly summer festival and summer holiday nights.

Shall we look at more photos of my gorgeous yarn? I just love the excitement of opening  the parcel and seeing the skeins all cosy and curled up inside, waiting for me to reveal them. It was like opening a box of sweets. I gave them a squeeze and inhaled deeply their wonderful wooly, yarn scent. Oh I love the smell of yarn, I really do. I savoured it’s newness and it’s promise.

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The inspiration for this project comes direct from the Peruvian mountains and the ponchos worn and used for practical purposes on Machu Picchu and the surrounding area. Instead of being woven, I’ll be using a 5.5mm hook as it’s classed as chunky and it should work up quite quickly. Amazing crochet happiness for my Springtime project.

So happy, happy Saturday and I hope you are enjoying making or planning your Springtime crochet happiness. I am. :O)xxx

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:: My Crochet Blanket love ::

Crocheted blankets

It always  fills me with enormous pride and love when I finish a crochet blanket and can see it in all of it’s glory. I’m really quite good at visualising what my blankets will look like when they are completed, but it’s not the same as when they are there in front of you with all of the intricacies, colour combinations, pulling and tugging of ends, fiddly finger work and endless counting and stitchery combinations finally worked together for the reveal and Ta-Dah. I do so love the blankets I have completed so far on my rekindled crochet journey. I love that I have been able to give pleasure to others by passing them on. I love that I have been able to fire up the crochet passion in my young niece and her desire for making crochet granny square blankets for her dolls, and the maturity of her request for a grown up girl blanket for her newly decorated bedroom.

What could be better than passing on and gifting a beautifully made, personalised handmade crochet blanket to the next generation – a keep sake she will forever know as Aunty Karen’s crochet blanket? It fills me with HuGe amounts of blanket love.

So I decided to embark on a little trip down the last 8 months of Crochet Blanket Memory Lane. Would you like to come too?

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My first blanket ever ever…not from the last 8 months but made by me when I was 11. My next door neighbour’s 17 year old daughter Susan started me off with remnants of baby wool and any other bits I could find in my Mum’s and her Mum’s stash. I remember sitting there all fingers and thumbs but then suddenly getting all the way round and adding new colours, keeping going and then the joy as it grew and grew. I have kept this blanket safe and sound; it has cuddled both of my baby boys and then stayed draped lovingly on my bedroom chair to remind me of the stages of my life.

Then last year inspired by many crochet magazines on the shelf in the supermarket, something just struck a cord with me. I went to the wool shop and I bought some yarn. 18 delicious and amazing colours of King Cole pricewise – a budget DK acrylic- but great all the same. I had a vase of my favourite flowers, tulips on the kitchen table, so decided to use them as inspiration for the colours!

sunshine granny square blanket

I found Lucy at Attic24, who inspired me to try other patterns and combinations.There was the festival granny stripe blanket. I started this blanket at the Cambridge Folk festival last summer, our last family holiday before E went off to University.

festival granny stripe blanket

I made a blanket to give to E’s girlfriend for her 18th birthday, a keepsake gift. I love to give presents and one that is homemade with love is always something special I think. She loves Cath Kidston- this was Cath Kidston-esque.

Cath Kidston-esque lap blanket

Then there was the blanket I made for Little Em who requested a big girls blanket for her birthday. I’m really pleased with the retro feel of this blanket, the oatmeal colour sets of the bright and mute colours beautifully.

Little Em crochet granny square blanket

Currently I am working on an amazing project blanket; my lovely hubby got me a club blanket member ship for my Christmas present. I saw Amanda and The Natural Dye Studio projects at Yarndale. I totally and completely fell in love with her blankets and yarns. I did prompt J into the right direction and oh boy, it is beautifully wonderful. Here is where I am up to. I will keep you up to date with my Kaleidoscope Blanket on my Ravelry, Facebook and Flickr.

kaleidoscope club blanket

So how did you enjoy my little journey? I loved looking back at the blankets so far this year – I can’t wait to show you the rest of the projects I have planned, with my double Lucy packs of yarn from Deramores waiting patiently for  blanket or two! Happy hooking people!

::Kaleidoscope Blanket Club::

Hi, just a quick post to show you the amazing Kaleidoscope blanket club I’m working on. It’s my super-lovely christmas present from my lovely hubby from The Natural Dye Studio. I saw Amanda and her amazing blankets, yarns and projects at Yarndale last year, and just knew that the Kaleidoscope blanket was something I would love to do. The fabulous idea is that it is revealed to you month by month, an you have no idea what the finished blanket will look like until nearly the end. Genius!!

My first bundle of kaleidoscope club yarn skeins arrived in the new year with the starter pattern and motifs.

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Doesn’t it look beautiful? It is gorgeously soft and indulgent. 100% single thread 4ply Merino.Image

I got my yarn all wound up into balls ready.

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I’ve got some motifs completed with my 3.5mm hook

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And I’m so excited to get the rest done. I’ve ben checking it out on flickr and Ravelry and there is an additional group where club members can have a chat an a sneaky peep at the stages completed.

Off to do a couple more motifs… will keep you posted!!

::Ta-Dah – Wild Wood Wool neck warmer cowl ::

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This is my first Ta-Dah post in a while but what a super-duper quick little project this turned out to be- a neck warmer cowl for the not yet arrived cold weather and in the perfect rainbow dyed colours of purple, pinks, raspberry, teal and greens called Wild Wood Wool. Last week, before I felt super ill, I went to the amazing Wool clip in nearby Caldbeck to buy some yarn, I talked about it in my post about Half term, my beautiful Wild Wood Wool which I knew I was going to make a gorgeous neck warmer cowl. They have such an amazing selection of hand spun, hand dyed yarns from British breeds and they are mostly farmers/ farmers wives them selves. They are the amazing group behind Woolfest, celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year! WooHoo!! I’ll be going, and you really shouldn’t miss it if you love anything yarn, textiles, creative, crafty of any kind, at all, whatsoever!!! It is a cooperative of 15 members with a diverse range of textile skills and styles. I LoVe LoVe going to the Woolclip; it’s so inspiring.

Anyhoooo…. I bought this wonderful yarn. Beautiful blue-faced leicester by Cecelia and Jean called Wild Wood Wool. 100g, one skein, cost about £12.00 and I knew what I would do with it. A cowl (neck warmer thingy).

So… I wound it.

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Then started crocheting it. Hmmm, I only wanted it to just go over my head without messing up any hair do I might have (not!), so decided after a bit of frogging and pulling out, to do (lots of 3) +2 chains for turning (I knew I’d do double crochets to start with). I used a 4mm (g) hook.

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For the foundation chain I did 93 loops (I knew the main pattern would be in triple clusters) and after a tricky dc first row, when you have to be absolutely certain it hasn’t twisted, I was off! I then did two rows of single triples (1 triple in every loop) before settling into a pattern stripe of alternate, single triple row, then triple cluster row ( 3 triples in every 3rd loop).

CAM00111It grew and it grew and it grew… then I realised I wanted a firm edging to finish it off, so after again pulling it back so that I had enough yarn, I ended with 2 rows of single triples ( after the last triple cluster row) and then a last row of double crochet. I had 3 inches of yarn left! Ha ha wasn’t that great?

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Ta-dah the finished item. So beautifully random and rainbowed.

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It had it’s first outing on Saturday, you may have seen in this post Outside again.

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And here is a not very flattering shot of a ‘poorly’ me wearing it for the day to keep me super-warm whilst working.

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Hey ho… I do love it soooo much and it was really easy peasy. Hey, this has turned into my first proper tutorial type thingy, Hope it all made sense. Go on have a go, it really can be done – one skein, that’s all, this one cost me about £12.00. A bargain I think for something so unique and beautiful. They make great presents. Any problems or advice needed please let me now. :O)xxx

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Good for my tummy brownies

Good-for-my-tummy-Brownies

I love making hess brownies, especially as they are good-for-my-tummy, and I know I can enjoy them without feeling ill. They are gluten and dairy free so don’t keep so well (oh dear!), I just eat them and treat myself when they’re gone they’re gone.

How to make Good-for-my-tummy- brownies:

200g dark chocolate melted- no dairy (70% is good)

100g gluten free flour

100ml sunflower oil

2 eggs

100g sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

Method::

Mix all the ingredients and put into a lined 23cm square tin and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180c. It should be a bit soft, but not sinking , in the middle. leave to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar before devouring! :O)Image

::Outside again::

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It always amazes me how quickly you begin to feel better when you’ve been ill, if you can venture outside again. Half term took a turn for the worse when my asthma decided it didn’t like the bronchial virus that struck mid-week, so staying warm and cosy became a priority. Not being able to breathe is a very scary feeling, typically like ‘the elephant on the chest’ that people often refer to when having an asthma attack. But this asthma attack didn’t work like that: it crept up on me over time making me feel tired, cold and breathless. I wondered when I would be able to go outside again.

So this week I took advantage of being at home, snuggly warm (and somewhat tired) to complete projects, watch T.V movies that had been stored on the hard drive since Christmas, enjoy tasty foods (my tastebuds were seriously struggling, everything tasted so bland) and generally fully recharge my batteries. I really did enjoy the full Lord of the Rings trilogy, all nearly 10 hours of it… but my goodness I just wish they’d got there sooner! In the end my week turned out very productive, and I did get lots of rest. More than once I discovered myself asleep on the sofa, snuggled under my blanket realising that poor Frodo had suddenly taken a turn for the worse too without me noticing!

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::Monday: I completed little Em crochet granny square blanket.

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::Tuesday: I wound all of my beautiful yarn for my next crochet projects.

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::Wednesday: I designed and transferred my blog to a brand spanking new home (here!) including a montage of all my bits and bobs and crochet, knitted and patchwork makes.

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::Thursday: I made yummy food. Gluten and dairy free brownies the recipe is on this post Good-for-my-tummy-brownies.

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::Friday: Hooray! I ventured outside again and filled my lungs with Cumbrian, oh-so-fresh-and tinglingly-cool air and paddled in the mud. It was glorious and so exhilarating to finally be outside again and to feel the air and the sun on my face, my cheeks glowed and it did make my nose run rather a lot (tissues were definitely needed). But my lungs did thank me for the pleasure of new air with a sound sleep and virtually no coughing! No, not much at all!

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::Saturday: I went outside again to the market in the wonderful town of Keswick and in my basket I bought…

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…some lovely fresh beetroot, a beautiful watermelon, a deliciously scented bunch of parsley and some vintage-styly cup cake cases. Aren’t they adorable? I also visited the Cafe26 and had… lemon drizzle cake with blueberries and a lovely Americano Coffee! (Can you see my beautiful crocheted neck warmer cowl- I’m wearing it right now as I write, it really does keep me so snug – I got that finished too but that’s for another post).

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It just shows how sometimes your body will let you know when it really has had enough and it needs you to Stop, take a moment and sit back and recover. I’m getting better at reading the signs that my body has had enough, this time however I didn’t take heed, I thought I could win through and keep going, half term was looming, it would be fine. Clearly not.

So it is with renewed lungs, recharged batteries and faith in my resolve that I return, excitedly and very welcomed, back to my class and job as Deputy head in school. It is a very demanding job, in reality it isn’t 9-3.30 as anyone who knows or lives with a teacher will know. I will try my best to ‘take it steady’ next week, as the asthma nurse has recommended. But I am feeling better and longing to be going outside again.

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