:: Catching up – A trip to Iceland ::

Yes, I’m on catch up, getting back into the swing of regular blogging, checking messages and seeing what my blogland friends are up to. I’m catching up. Not only with what you’ve all been busy doing, but letting you know what I’ve been doing to. So here we go with the trip to Iceland!

Now, you are warned, this is a biggy! Get yourself a cuppa and settle down for a read and a ponder over my snaps.

Back in October Mr. Mixture43 was the BIG 5 0, and to celebrate we went to Iceland. Now it wasn’t as simple as that… we were scheduled to go in February but of course my health took a turn for the worst and we rescheduled. We went at Easter, over Easter weekend  in fact.

Oh we were so excited!20150402_123224

We flew from Glasgow to Reykjavik, didn’t take long, and as I hate flying (I really do)  I took my Diazepam!! It was relatively painless.

The scenery was stunning – still in the depths of their Winter, with the snow just starting to melt away.20150402_16215320150402_180353

Finally we arrived in Reykjavik at our hotel, the view was fantastic! There was a lot of low cloud, and we resigned ourselves early on that we probably wouldn’t see the Northern Lights, but there was much more to do.20150403_080717

I can see why the Icelandic landscape is used for movie sets etc, particularly space scenes, it was like landing on another planet, another world.20150403_132843

The contrast between black lava volcanic rock and the pure untouched snow and ice was stunning.  20150403_154141

On our first venture out of the main city, on a tour of the local area, we were able to see just how isolated the out lying villages are. It was bitterly cold, -10c and we were suitably wrapped up against the wind. 20150403_095726

At Thingvellir National Park the blizzard didn’t stop us from exploring the Tectonic plates, the site of an Ancient Viking Parliament (I’ll let you read about it here if you want to) – The European and American plates here are moving apart all the time – I’m sure you know Iceland is highly volcanic and every home is built to Earthquake standards!_DSC0174

The Rift Valley was spectacular; visibility was actually quite good!_DSC0177

One of the most spectacular places we visited was Gullfoss Waterfall – the largest in Europe. It was immense in it’s power, force and with all of the winter snow starting to melt, it was phenomenal to hear.20150403_161002   20150403_160932 20150403_160918

The colour contrasts were breathtaking. 20150403_160904 20150403_160342

The shop also does a warming cuppa and cake – well it was bitterly cold and blizzarding out there!20150403_162232

Geysir next and the power of the underground geothermal hot springs. Yes it did smell a bit of rotten eggs, all that sulphur you see, but the ground was warm to the touch and the steam itself was hot.20150403_172059 20150403_170652

Now, I’m not a very brave person when it comes to water. I love walking, relaxing and spending time near water; rivers, lakes and the seaside. However I’ve never been a strong swimmer, or enjoyed being on a boat. I’ve always been sea sick. So going Whale Watching on a large fishing vessel, rolling in the sea, in a super large padded waterproof onsey with buoyancy aid – really? Yes, really! Well it’s a look

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But I wasn’t the only one looking stupid… so that was ok._DSC0231

Got a great view looking back at Reykjavik and the harbour.20150405_132015

_DSC0285_DSC0283Out to the ocean and glaciers.20150405_132220

We did see some dolphins, whales and porpoise, but they are too small to see on the photos, so the memory card in my brain will just have to store them!

A must do, when in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, the geothermal spa hot springs. They are wonderful! The water is soft, smooth and almost silky as it is rich in the minerals from the volcanic rock it seeps from. Just bathing and relaxing in them was bliss, and they weren’t smelly at all. They were the most wonderful duck egg blue colour, and they come out of the ground at 38c

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You may be thinking well all of these wonderful tourist attractions are great but what are the town and the people like? Well they were friendly and relaxed. However after the economic crisis that hit Iceland, and then the rest of the world a few years ago, things are quite expensive. Coffee, tea and food in particular, however eat locally (this means fish) and you’re fine. I did enjoy my freshly caught lobster tails and mushroom risotto.20150403_201935

But there were many other sights that really showed the character and humour of the Icelanders. Here are my snappy snaps around town gallery!20150403_21401920150405_105513

So many wonderful window displays.20150405_105122 20150405_10513920150405_113340 20150405_11332120150405_110239 20150405_110245

In a town where they build homes from tin and the earth is black or grey, these flashes of colour really shout out in a busy side street!

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The centre of Reykjavik was unlike anywhere else I have been; buildings built to withstand earthquakes, using what appear to be the simplest of materials, concrete, tin and wood..20150405_122825_DSC0247_DSC0246

The spectacular church.

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But of course my creative crafty mind just had to seek out all things woolly! With such a unique yarn – the fibres behave differently and are strong because of the climate in Iceland – there were many woollen products, but these were my favourites.

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This was hanging on display in the bus station! Along with fabric bunting, cultural artwork and poetry. Amazing!bus crochet

Traditional knits – all handmade and very expensive. I know there is a lot of work in them, there were so many varieties but I liked the monochrome ones with undyed yarn. So beautiful.4752944-Wollen_Icelandic_sweaters_the_original_pattern_Reykjavik

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I absolutely love this from Carregyarns, the tonal colours remind me of the green lychee and moss on the volcanic rock across the landscapes.

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Yes, I did come home with yarn….Lettlopi

And ordered some to arrive after we got home from the Alafoss shop. They have online sales too, but beware of the shipping costs!

So there you go, I hope you have enjoyed catching up with my trip to Iceland. We want to go again, unusual as we don’t often revisit, but we loved it so very much. In fact, as different as it is to my home life and environment, it is the kind of place I could live. A trip next summer, during Icelandic spring will be fantastic.  In the meantime I have many projects to consider with Icelandic inspiration. Hmmmm…. where to start? Happy hooking. :O)xxxxx

:: Ta-dah – Cosy Stripe Blanket ::

cosy stripe bI do love crocheting blankets of all shapes and sizes. My first crochet adventure aged 10 was a blanket, and it’s just kind of stuck. Since I returned to crochet a few years ago, with a desire to help me relax, produce something beautiful and help my Creative Mind fulfil it’s need to make, I have made baby blankets as gifts and commissions including five large bed blankets. This last one, the Cosy Stripe Blanket is one of Lucy’s at Attic24 and I actually went for the colour pack. Why? She is so talented at closing her colour combinations, I decided (with my tired and newly diagnosed Addison’s brain) that I – 1. didn’t need the hassle of fiddling with colours and 2. was extremely happy with Lucy’s selection.

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My friend Lynne at Lusciously Loopy has an online wool shop, so put the pack selection colours together for me. Seventeen colours of Stylecraft Special DK. Then I was off!

I didn’t join the CAL that Lucy held over the Autumn/Winter of 2014/2015 – although some of the results from this were beautiful. So many people adapted it and tweaked it to suit their purposes and desires. Have a look here at some of them Lucy has shared. The pattern is such a simple and effective combination of trebles both single and triple clusters, in a glorious stripe combination. They ramble along, effortlessly, and are so soothing and melodic. It really was a joy. I was quite literally hooked on this pattern from the off. I started it on 29th May 2015.cosy b 29

Lucy’s combinations and careful planning mean that no two sequences are the same – despite using similar combinations of colours.cosy b 10

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You can see how in the sunshine the colours really sing.

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Work and crochet??!!cosy b 5

cosy b 4It went on holibobs with me to Somersault Festival, where there was some Elsie-van crochet action. Then to Dorset where there was going to be some beach crochet action but this happened…

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Crabbies and Crochet at Cambridge Folk Festival…crabbies and crochet

Snoozing and crochet at Cambridge Folk Festival…cosy b

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I really cannot stress enough how much easier it is to deal with those pesky ends as you go…cosy b 3

Love the colours. Ahhh

Starting the border. Lucy does say that there may not be enough for the border, and as my tension is probably a little more loose than hers, I didn’t have enough. I had a spare bit of raspberry in my stash that got me through the first round.Then I was planning on using gold, claret and meadow.cosy stripe blanketI ordered another ball of gold and petrol, I didn’t have enough claret but had lots of spare meadow from another project. I finalised the border with gold, meadow the petrol. I love the petrol as my last edge, but it is a thirsty round. Make sure you have enough!

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So here it is. TA-Dah!!!! I love it. It’s a substantial size and weight – more than big enough for a single bed and super-cosy as the name suggests.

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Isn’t it beautiful? So well balanced.

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I love the way the border has definition and picks up the blue tones from the blanket. 20150818_152321

It will now have a place in my blanket pile, the ones I haven’t given away. I’m not good at giving them away as they take up so much time and effort. This blanket has been so therapeutic, helping me to recover, redress the stress balance and refocus my energies since my diagnosis.

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I hope you enjoyed the colourfest that is Cosy Stripe Blanket. I’m going to use the pattern again I loved it so much. New colour combinations are waiting to be discovered. Will you do a cosy stripe blanket? You won’t regret it. :O)xxxxx

 

 

::Ta-Dah! Cosy Ripple Blanket::

20150204_121725I’m so happy to be revealing this lovely Cosy Ripple blanket to you, I’ve worked hard on it now since mid November and I’m delighted with the results, so here goes with the run through!

The design process for me is SO important when ever I am working on something of my own idea and I find it difficult to start without a clear direction. This project all started wen I saw 5ftinf on Lucy @Attic24‘s blog page and I was captured by the beautiful simplicity of her arrangements. I call them arrangements as I’m not sure what else to call them – they are a wondrously, colourful collection! So I went and made my own – foraging for the colours and textures of Autumn, my locality, the ones that made me smile and sigh. I was pretty chuffed with my results.

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Then came the rummaging through the stash, I had lots of Stylecraft Special Dk  from the Wool Warehouse left over from other projects and I had bought a Lucy pack (the one with 17 colours in it) so I had plenty of colour inspiration to go with. The colours I chose were:

Meadow• Teal• Plum• Clematis•Copper•Clover•Spice•Claret•Walnut•Lime•Denim•Pomegranate• Khaki•Camel•Emperor•Wisteria•

I played around with them, the different combinations and the light and shade. It is important to see how the colours look in tones just as much as the colours and hues. I decided to do just one row in each colour in that order.

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So with my little pegs of wonder ready- I began the whole process of my Cosy Ripple.

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I knew the length I wanted it to be, to cover the seat in Elsie my new caravan, so promptly started with 212 foundation chains + 3 for turning. That would give me 53 sets of a 4 stitch ripple. I followed Lucy’s neat ripple stitch – no point in reinventing the wheel!
ripple 5It grew and it grew and it grew. The ripple stitch has such a calming rhythm.

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ripple 3And it grew! The colours beginning to blend, mix and form a repeat that I love.

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Then it was time for those ends and contemplate the edging.

endsI made two half trebles into each of the spaces along both edges of the blanket, into each stripe. They form little ‘v’ shapes. I used the same colour as I had started and ended the blanket in this case Khaki.

20150130_170626So that the blanket was balanced all round, I then edged it in a simple single half treble, firstly in Claret and secondly in Clover. At the corners I made 2 half trebles, then chain 2, then two half trebles again. This gave me a neat crisp corner.

20150204_121636So here are the glamour shots!! The light was so lovely and clear today in the kitchen that I decided to work a number of poses, just to show off! I make no apologies for how much I adore the colours, the simplicity and the drape of this blanket. I am thrilled.

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20150204_121805Happy• Happy• Happy•. :O)xxxxxx

 

::Nearly new beginning::

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You may remember our first trip away last May in our lovely new caravan purchase Doris, here at Wasdale part one? But I’m sad to say that at the end of the summer, we parted with your not long new to us caravan Doris.

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But to be honest, when we stripped her right down intending to make her lovely and cosy or little jaunts and breaks away, there was a lot more to do to her that we at first thought. She had lots of rotten timbers, there was some saggy seems and a bit of a spongy floor. Yes Paul Hollywood, she had a soggy bottom.We found this all out after a few days of rain and  yucky wet weather. Although new to this caravan malarky, we weren’t that naive to think it had  just happened.

I was very very sad.

But…

We have done lots of research and some significant saving up and TA-Dah!!! Today we purchased another caravan. Meet Elsie!

elsieI have so many renewed plans for her; curtains and flooring mainly as she is a lot younger than Doris. We decided we wanted a solid van, without having to put in new sides, floors. So any work on Elsie will be cosmetic.

I love this fabric from Amy Butler soul blossoms range, fresh, light and cheerful.

amy butler soul blossomsI love these dishes from J G Meakin. I’ll be trawling eBay and other sellers for some of these.

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then there will be the blanket making. I’m already going to put my Autumn Cosy Ripple into Elsie as I think it will be great to cosy up to on the spring evenings. It will add a contrast to the other colours which I like.

autumn rippleSo there you have it. I’m so excited. We’ll be spending British holidays in her in the next few years- with some fly away city breaks mixed in there. Then there are the festivals and the walking holidays not to mention J and his mission to cycle Lands End to John O’groats next year. Elsie will definitely come in handy then. I’ll post some inside pictures soon, and I’ll let you know how we get on. :O)xx

::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