::Ta-Dah!! Pretty Poncho happiness::

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Oh my goodness! It is with great pleasure that I am FINALLY sharing this with you. After the planning, designing and deciding stages, then months and months of making, tweaking and finalising, it has to be the most favourite thing I have ever made and I ‘m so happy with it. My Pretty Poncho.

CAM00189It all started when I saw a beautiful Pretty Peruvian pPoncho in a magazine and was umming and arhhing about whether to make one. I began collecting images of ponchos that I loved here on my Pinterest board Poncho Love. Then to top it all off, I saw my blog friend Lucy’s Home Poncho over on Attic24 and I decided YES! It can get a bit chilly here in the Hayloft especially when you move away from the Aga in the kitchen. Many evenings working on school work, sometimes blogging and catching up with my Facebook friends, can get a bit shivery. A poncho would be just the job. It wouldn’t slip off my shoulders like my blanket sometimes does!CAM00191So it started back in February with this post. It started when I spotted this amazing yarn from Deramores Cascade 220 solid in it’s amazing range of about 150 colours. Yes approximately 150 colours of pure peruvian wool. Poncho heaven.

20140420_190606There was some designing involved, taking me back to my design roots. I have a Bachelor of Design degree in textiles, bet many of you don’t know that! Yes I do! I worked freelance in the textile industry designing knitwear and attending trade shows around the world before my two little bundles of joy arrived. So with my pretty poncho project, I gave myself the opportunity to design, to play with the scrumptious colours, to mood board, sketch, create shade cards and to play! I explain about all of this in my entry for the blog awards.

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I made a start; with no pattern to go from I felt my way and tried to keep to the image in my head of how I wanted it to turn out! Not an easy task, really, especially when you want it to be finished like yesterday! I can be so impatient and rush ahead. But no, I wanted my poncho to be beautiful, and I didn’t want to have to pull it out; frogging can be so tiresome!

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As you can see I started with a square ‘hole’ for my head! Wrong!! I pulled it out and started again, this time with 42 foundation chains, then I slipped stitch 3 into the end one before returning 42 chains back and slip stitching it together and making 3 slip stithies into this end too. Then there was that tricky first row of double crochets. Tricky because you have to make sure the chain doesn’t twist! Careful now… no twisting! Yay!! Phew

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As I got to the ‘points’  I made two stitches into the point stitch, then slip stitch and then two more stitches into the point stitch. This gave me a new point and a space in the middle of it to make a new point on the next round. I hope that makes sense! This gave me the classic ‘v’ shaped poncho with a point at each side- front and back. Oh it made my brain hurt for a bit, but once sorted I was off!

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I know some of you will want to know about the colours I chose – a very tricky job when there are almost 150 amazing Cascade colours to choose from all singing and zinging. However, I knew my palette would be based on my favourite colours of teal, raspberry, lime and purple, with some peruvian poncho red, orange and a hint of blue. There were many colours that I introduced and only used once or twice, one of them was yellow, it just didn’t please me. Then there were others that went together in a stunning way – of course there were others that got rapidly pulled out because they didn’t quite ‘click’. Overall I am blissfully happy with my colour combos and there are little areas where I have taken colour inspiration for other projects. My ripple blanket for example.

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It was extremely satisfying to se my poncho grow before my eyes. The Cascade 220 is a chunky yarn and is so wonderfully easy to crochet with no splitting or squeaking, it just flows off the hook in a wonderful rhythm. I used a 5mm Addis hook, I like the way it fits in my hand, especially for this chunky yarn. The pattern for the poncho is of my own making, based on a kind of granny stripe idea. I made it up as I went along; rows of trebles and doubles, some treble clusters and there is a kind of repeat, of pattern anyway not colour combos! Getting through the rows didn’t take so long really. All 73 beautiful rows. The rows basically go like this; {dc- single trb – dc – single trb – single trb – dc – single trb –  dc – dc – trb clusters – single trb – trb clusters } and back to the start. There was a point half way where I did two rows of treble closers back to back to mark the halfway down point!

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Outside evening hooky is so wonderfully relaxing, and I whiled away the hours sitting in the garden over the late spring into summer, entertaining friends and sometimes just entertaining myself enjoying the early summer. I wanted to get my poncho finished to wear in France on our holiday and the stitches found their way through the fabric and the colours began to blend; it has been so admired.

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Then there was a row of picot edging around the top edge and the tassels! Oh wow, they took a while. 126 perfectly formed shamrock style flowers – just because I liked them. Oh I loved making them. I took both of these patterns from my Edie Eckman book Around the corner. They were pinned and blocked so that they would hang beautifully and not curl up and yes, that did take some time, but it was very worthwhile. They swish and tassel and swing in style!

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Finally there were the ends! I sewed each one in individually as I find it gives a better finish and they are firm: I am more confident that they won’t unravel and twist out. Again time consuming but very worth it, having spent so long on this project, it was the right thing to do.

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20140726_230441So there you have it. Are you ready for the Pretty Poncho reveal? It was ready to go to France and I had great fun prancing about in the maize fields (sadly the sunflowers were passed their best) with Mr Mixture wielding the camera. Work that poncho Mrs Mixture!

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There you have it. My Pretty Peruvian Poncho. I love it. I have given as many nuggets of help as I can in this post so if you want to have a go-please do. I would love to see any peruvian poncho inspired makes. However I won’t write up the pattern – it grew organically and it would take me a very long time to get it written up into some kind of order. I am very willing to help anyone who would like a try. Go on- have a go. You won’t regret it! :O)xxx

::Returning::

Oh my it has taken a while to get around to this post. Returning from holiday, returning to school, returning back to the rhythm of life after a stupidly hectic Autumn term.

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Paris and France seem like an incredibly long time ago; wandering in the steaming streets following the summer downpours, a visit to L’Oisive The (even though it was closed for the french national holiday fortnight), balconies and beautiful architecture at every turn, great coffee, the views from the Eiffel Tower, the smell of freshly baked pattisserie, fields full of maize, sunflowers and grapes, returning to the farmhouse for simple freshly cooked dinners.

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It was a swift return straight into school with a bump, returning home on Friday and back to school Monday, having washed, cleaned, filled up cupboards of food, planned lessons and whooooosh, there I was back in class with a lovely bunch of new Year 6 children. We are studying The Victorians so the class is themed around Sherlock Holmes, at the moment.

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The following weekend it was the returning of my eldest E to Leeds for year two of Music production and composition. Moving him into his new flat, with flatmates and a new location for him to investigate, new relationships for him to forge and a new set of challenges for him has taken it’s toll on him and consequently me too. I miss him._DSC0098

A twenty second wedding anniversary meal followed the next weekend; returning to the two of us in the next few years is something we have begun to talk about. When both of our boys are at university, exploring their path through the world and it is just the two of us at home isn’t, in reality, too far away. I have mixed emotions about it. Having a house full of laughter, little feet, daily, hourly, investigations and wonder with small children will be replaced by time spent together again, returning to the two of us of twenty or so years before. I relish the thought of coming and going as we please. I look forwards to seeing our boys, now almost men, make their way and supporting, enjoying, and feeling so incredibly proud of their skills, personalities and choices.

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Returning to Yarndale the next weekend was amazing; taking my Mum as a birthday treat, catching up with Lucy from Attic24 and Amanda from The natural Dye Studio. Showing off my Poncho and my kaleidoscope blanket to them filled me with joy. So much in common, so many shared pleasures and time to indulge and share. Lovely. Treating my lovely Mum to the Yarndale trip filled me with such pleasure, the kind of pleasure you get from being generous and unselfish with your time for the delight of others. Spending time with my one year old nephew and my ‘baby’ brother in nearby Harrogate over the weekend and his “How long does it take to look at wool?” comments made me smile.yarndale 14 2yardale 2014Then there was the many happy returns of J’s fiftieth birthday weekend last week. Yes my husband is a whole big fifty! Where did the time go? He had no idea of the surprise birthday party, returning to my brother’s house to host it. We enjoyed a love filled, family filled day of reminiscence, memories and laughter and a wonderful hillwalking cake made by my lovely mum. Then I was forty five the following day. Hmmmmm…..

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So here I am with a half term of …. no plans. Wow. I have some catching up to do, the house needs some love, tidying, and sorting. I am full of cold, I have shared my germs unfortunately as I have shared my past four weekends. I am in need of some crochet therapy and intend to do just that. Recharge my batteries, drool over my Yarndale purchases, reflect on my last few weeks and return myself to full health before round two and the run down to Chrsitmas. Oh boy, it looks like it will be some ride! :O)xx

::P, P, Pick up a poncho – again ::

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_nOk, it’s a work in progress, a WIP as they say. It remains in progress, but my poncho is getting more and more beautiful and colourful as it grows. And it’s nearly there. I keep on p, p, picking up that poncho!10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_nBut then I put it down as something else takes over. My Ripple stitch blanket was the most recent distraction. 20140713_18473510389357_822150724470830_4787128616661467355_nThen there will be my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket again. They seem to do triangular rotation, depending on my mood, time and inclination.20140510_09444220140531_163331k blanketNow back to the poncho again. You may remember how it started back at the beginning of the year.CAM00183The beautiful yarn I purchased from Deramores, gorgeous Cascade Peruvian wool, very apt indeed considering the inspiration.

5a872-6a0192aab0192b970d01a73d7c9d4b970d-pi20140420_190606Then there was the starting off, and the pulling out, the frogging, the restart and then the progress.20140513_20015420140525_082255It will give me great pleasure to wear my poncho on our French holiday when we arrive at the Farmhouse we are borrowing from a colleague. We have been before, three times, and it ‘s almost like having a family holiday home. I’ll tell you about it soon, but for now it’s time to concentrate on the Poncho, to get it finished for my cool French evenings with my local wine, cheese and some amazing bread. I’ll enjoy wearing it for evening sunset walks – when I get it finished! Need to keep on p, p, picking up my poncho!poncho 1

:: Ripple all the way::

20140713_173815I know, I know you wait weeks for a post and then two come along within a short space of time!! But, I am so enjoying my ripple stitch summer blanket at the moment- it really is relaxing, the repetition of the ripples forming a lovely little rhythm. I have had a rare afternoon of snugglery on the sofa rippling all the way. Blissful.

20140713_183435I’m also enjoying being random, but still not quite random. I know that doesn’t make any sense at all. Let me explain. I have my big bag of style craft colours and I choose three that compliment each other, then I work them in making sure I do a double row of treble stitches  and two single rows of treble stitches of each colour. Every 8 rows or so I add a single treble stripe of plum, then off I go again with the stripes. That’s as much pattern repeat as it gets. It really is random colours for my ripple all the way!20140713_184812I decided to call it Summer Ripple Blanket because of the array of beautiful summer ice-cream and sunshine colours. It’s going to live happily in Doris caravan ands it was essential that it had a summery feel to it.20140713_184722I do love it so.20140713_184838Now for the folded shots, lets pose, left, right, work that ripple! Oh Yeah!20140713_184920

20140712_122708And… here is a little bit of help for those wanting to give it a try. I’m not great with the diagram malarchy but I hope it helps. For the treble together are when you get through the first loop stage of your treble and hold it on your hook whilst you get to the next stage with the following stitch (3 loops on your hook) then you pull the yarn through them all. It gives you a ‘v’ shape which forms the trough of your ripple. The two treble stitches into the same loop give you the ‘peak’ or upside down ‘v’ at the other end. It really doesn’t matter how many trebles you have in between, I have 4 on each side of the peaks and troughs, as long as they are equal. The multiples for your foundation chain will need to be even – the number of chains in the side parts (mine is 4) then 6 additional for the peaks and troughs, then 3 for turning at the end. I measured the space I wanted mine to fit then did the fancy maths to figure out how many chains that would be based on my little sample of repeats. There is more detail for this in Lucy’s amazing post at Attic24 – she describes it so much better than me. happy ripple hooky. •∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•

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::Summer Ripple happy hooky::

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It has been a while since I last posted and so much has happened here in the Hayloft. At the end of the summer term it all goes a little crazy following SATs: there is the Year 6 performance, the Summer Fayre, performing Arts Evening, the leavers assembly and on top of all that we have the Australia day to celebrate all of our learning this term about Australia. In amongst all of that it has been difficult to have the energy to pick up my crochet hook, and when I found the going a little tricky with my Kaleidoscope blanket, it was my Summer Ripple blanket that I have turned to for some Summer Ripple hooky happiness.

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It all started in Doris Caravan in May when we went for a trip to Wasdale and I began my crochet ripple hooky journey. What an amazingly relaxing stitch it is, you just keep going on the little ripple roller coaster, changing colours as you go and it grows so quickly. I’m using style craft DK from The Wool warehouse and I treated myself to two of the Lucy Attic24 packs to make this blanket. I have added some lime yarn of my own, to add a bit of Zing! Lucy has now kindly solved that problem by having her own lime colour commissioned! Yay!

It started off quite random, but it has found a pattern all of it;s own and it has begun to take shape rather beautifully I think. What do you think? There has been outside in the glorious sunshine hooky.

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Also some cosy up on the sofa ripple hooky.

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I think I’ll make a quick tutorial for this pattern soon, when I get five minutes to draw it out and think about the words. In the meantime I’l keep on with my rippling, and hope to get to the end of term next week in one piece. Happy hooky everyone. :O)xxxxx

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:: Blue skies and wild flowers::

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We’re nearly at the end of our half term holiday and what a mixed bag it’s been: whistle stop trip to Edinburgh for a GCSE art project (don’t ask!), crochet, shopping, some school work and catching up with the returned-from-University-for-the-year child! Yes all done for the year! Sitting relaxing in the garden with my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket, listening to the birds twittering in the crab-apple tree above me, the cat purring near my feet and the sun warming my face, made me smile and just pause for a minute to savour life around me.

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As it was soooo pretty, today I went for a pootle around the locality (the village) with my Hubby in the lovely, gorgeous sunshine. What a fantastic day it has been; blue skies, really clear and sometimes just a whisp of white fluffiness to change the view, an abundance of wild flowers scattering their colourfulness in the hedgerows and fields. The hummmmmmm of tractors making their first cut of the season in the grassy fields taking advantage of the sunshine.

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We could see all the way over to Dumfries; it was a little hazy and shimmery in the heat over the Solway but the outline of the hills and Criefell could be seen. Beautiful; it made me smile and wish for the summer months to speed towards us with the promise of long walks along the beach, picnics in the fields near the lake, the rainy days in with the games and the long trip to France in the car, laden with holiday hopes and dreams. Oooooh I can smell and hear the markets now, with their stalls swollen with local produce – the cheese, the hams, the tomatoes!!!

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Now back to our walk. I’ll let you look at the pictures, they tell their own sunny, hedgerow story really. But doesn’t it make your heart swell and jump with delight when you get an unexpected day like today?  I love wild flowers and they last for such a short time, it is lovely to cherish and take notice of them while you can. Long, luscious sweeps of buttercups, wild orchids, clover, wild geraniums and tonnes of tiny forget-me-nots that were just a blur when the picture was taken. I wish you could have seen them. I hope you enjoyed your day. :O)xxx

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::Poncho progress::

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Oh what a happy weekend it has been, despite working for most of it in school, preparing and organising, I have returned happily every day to my poncho project. It was back in February when I first thought of designing and making a Poncho; something warm, cosy and to beat the chills of a spring or summer evening, inspired by my blogland friend Lucy. I mused over Peruvian traditions, yarn choices, colours and shapes of the garment. It was  a bubbling pot of ideas, steeping in flavours, developing depth and becoming more and more unctuous day by day. Eventually I settled on yarn, some springtime yarn skein happiness this magical, beautiful, peruvian 100% wool Cascade 220 from Deramores. It gives me such  delight to work with all the 24 colours I chose from over 100 shades.

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So having decided on the yarn, the shape and the colour combinations, I began with the skeins.  wound them and organised them, I sketch booked some ideas, colours and shapes, then I set about making a start.ImageImage

I thought you might like to see the progress I’ve made, it is remarkable how my Creative Mind can see the finished project before I’ve even started it! Simple stitch arrangements, trebles, doubles and some clusters, and colour combinations from my research (with some creative licence used too).Image

The pattern is something I have devised myself, and follows a loose repeat in sections. I have sections of stitches, changing colours, then new sections of stitch combinations. they will all be repeated in some way. The increases are created at the four ‘corners’. I’m keeping notes of this  project so I’m planning on writing up a tutorial for it- REALLY?? I hear you say?- well I figured it might inspire, help or support someone out there! It is a little complex so the tutorial might be a summer holiday project – I couldn’t get the numbers and details sorted whilst I have school stuff going on in my head!ImageImage

Sunny morning, weekend crochet. Its coming along beautifully and the combinations are singing.Image

So there you are, a little bit of hooky action in pictures, not so many words today, thought I’d let the colour loveliness speak for itself. You don’t need me babbling on! I’m thrilled with how this project is coming along, the repetitive stitching, the revelation of the colourful combinations, how they play and dance about with every new addition. I’m truly loving picking it up, and working just a little more, with every row evolving the overall look.

Thank you for dropping by to see me today! Happy summer hooky. :O)xxxx