::Ta-Dah!! Pretty Poncho happiness::

CAM00183

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.

20140420_190851

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!

20140513_200206

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

.20140526_113908

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!

20140513_201705

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.

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_n

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!

20140525_082255

10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_n

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.

poncho finishing

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!

poncho edge

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.

20140726_211539

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!

_DSC0131_2

_DSC0100_2

_DSC0079_2  

_DSC0113_2

_DSC0082_2

_DSC0107_2

_DSC0118_2

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.

_DSC0287

_DSC0060

_DSC0305

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.

_DSC0131_2

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.

20140804_130034

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.

yarndale 14

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…..

_DSC0050_DSC0040

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

::Food fest at our house::

I love summer food. A food fest. Salad, coleslaw, especially red cabbage coleslaw, and lots and lots of lovely juicy fruit salads. Then there are the savoury salads, oh my! Avocado, walnut and peach – yum yum. Feeling inspired to try a new salad courtesy of my blogland friend Loopy, I decided to team it with some homemade pizzas too. Here is the post that set me off on this food fest at our house extravaganza.

20140805_185434Look I made it- however I didn’t have pumpkin seeds so I used toasted walnut pieces instead and I used cider vinegar (not as sweet or sugary). It was yummy. Hmmm… but what to have with it? A good fest needs to have … more food!  So I started some gluten free bread in the bread maker – I know cheating but I was busy packing for my holiday and writing this post!

I used 450g of gluten free bread flour,  270ml of warm water, pinch of salt, 1 yeast sachet, 1 teaspoon of sugar, knob of butter and that was it.

If not using a bread maker then mix and combine, and once mixed put in a warm bowl and cover with cling film for about 1 1/2 hours. then knead it until soft and forgiving. I used it to make two bases by rolling it out. I covered two large baking trays and then left them for about 15 mins whilst I did the rest.

20140805_184047I fried off some red onion and some portobello mushrooms which were not going to last a three week holiday, no they weren’t. Added garlic to some chopped tomatoes and whizzed them up to make a tomato sauce for the base.

20140805_184100This one had the tomato base, the onion and mushroom mixture, olives, and some ricotta cheese blobs. I added the rest of the grated cheddar towards the end.20140805_191900Then I made one for the boys with plain pepperoni, ham and cheddar- they don’t do olives and ricotta!20140805_190335

It was all so very delicious and food fest like. So a blogland friends post about her well-being and recipes turned into a food fest at our house! Oh how lovely it all was, and there is even a bit left over for lunch tomorrow. Hmmm… what to have then- I’ll be checking with Loopy to see if she has anymore ideas!

 

::Liebster Award nomination- woohoo::

Image

I have been lucky enough to be nominated by Amanda at Amjaylou for a Leibster award. This is a fabulous idea; you can get to know a little bit about your favourite blogs and also to find new blogs. I love it!

So here are the answers to Amanda’s questions, some random facts about me – (steady now!) and my nominations for awards of blogs I love, love, love.

1. How many WIP’s do you have at the moment?
I currently have 3 wip’s that have actually been started, but many many more in my head! Cushion love, blanket love, and bunting for my new nephews bedroom is a must before christmas!

2. What are they?
I have my kaleidoscope blanket Cal from The Natural Dye Studio ( christmas present from my lovely Hubby) which is coming along nicely, but takes lots of 3mm hook size concentration!20140510_094442

My ripple blanket for Doris Caravan in style craft DK Attic24 pack – which is a great pick up and carry on project.CAM00359

My peruvian poncho in Cascade 220 – which is a joy at 5mm size chunky, fabulous colours and grows so quickly.20140526_094026

I’m currently catching up with the May section of my kaleidoscope blanket (yes I know we’re in June, hence the reason for catching up!)

3. Regarding days out what would be your idea of heaven?

I love to visit the seaside and collect shells, stones, sea-glass and just to breath in the salty fresh air. Lying on my back on a beautifully crocheted blanket, guessing the shapes of the clouds, with the warm sun an a gentle breeze. We live 20 mins away from the West Cumbria coast so it’s great on a Sunday morning to plod along the beach, collect the Sunday papers and sometimes have a cheeky ice-cream in the local shop!20140615_113954

4. What would be your idea of hell?
End to end football, cycling, rugby- or actually Golf. I cannot stand Golf! Having to go and watch it , a whole day or more of it (the TV is bad enough) would be absolutely awful! Yuck! Argh!

5. What book are you reading at the moment?
As a year 6 teacher, I am constantly looking for great inspiring rears for my class and to motivate my reluctant boy readers to get into a good book. I have just completed Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve ( it was fabulous) and I am currently reading The Knife of never letting go by Patrick Ness and I LoVe LoVe it. My favourite personal text favourites are Tess of the D’Urbervilles and anything else by Hardy. Carlos Luis Zafon’s The shadow of the Wind is a firm favourite as is The Book Thief.

mortal knife tess shadow thief

6. What is your favourite tipple? ( can include non-alcoholic!)

A Mojito Mocktail – complete with lime juice, elderflower cordial, soda and a secret non-alcoholic ingredient from a bistro I love in my nearby town.

7. What’s been the best holiday you’ve been on so far?
A few years ago we took the boys aged 15 and 11 to Barcelona- it was amazing. I had been before 20 years ago and desperately wanted my family to see this wonderful city. It didn’t disappoint and they all loved it too. The Sagrada Familia was still unfinished and just as spectacular as I remember. Gaudi has always been a design inspiration to me and I felt quite emotional revisiting these beautiful buildings, Parc Guell and the amazing mosaics. The boys were thrilled to visit the Football stadium. Later, we travelled by hire car to a quiet fishing village up the coast and holidayed there with the french and spanish holiday makers. It was wonderful. A close second was our family holiday in Rome and Pompeii last year. As you can see- I love architecture!

205fa-6a0192aab0192b970d019104b66674970c-pi

 IMG_2454

8. What is your dream destination?
I really want to visit Sydney, Australia and walk along the harbour, visit the opera house and take in the sights before travelling up to Cairns to the rest Barrier reef. We’re hoping to go next year.

9. What would you put into Room 101?
Tin openers and garlic presses. They never last very long, always break down when you need them, and become worse than useless right at the wrong moment!

10. Do you have a favourite TV chef?
I don’t have one chef that I like in particular- they all get a bit samey after a while I feel. But I do absolutely love watching MasterChef- the normal ones not the celebrities or the chefs one. Also, I’m a real Saturday Morning Kitchen fan- I rarely miss it.

11. What is your all-time favourite cake?
It has to be a good old fashioned lemon cheesecake- it just can’t be beaten. My mum makes an amazing cheesecake with preserved lemons chopped up into the creamy mixture and it has chocolate digestives for the base. It is divine!! (Note to self- get the recipe from my mum!)

Now to the 11 random facts about myself.
1.I am a trained textile designer and worked as a textile designer for The Burton Group before my children were born.
2. I play the cello and all three descant, treble and tenor recorders.
3. I love tulips- very, very, very much.
4. My favourite chocolate is Green and Blacks 75% dark- closely followed by Lindt salted caramel.
5. I run- and completed The Cumbrian Run in 2011 a long 13.1 miles in 2hrs. Very proud.
6. I have raised just under £5000 for Cancer Research in the last 4 years.
7. I have cycled the Coast to Coast cycle route- 142 miles in 3 days.
8. I have been a teacher for 10 years and a deputy Head for 2 of them.
9. I am still best friends with my child hood best friend who I met when we were 12.
10. I drive a VW Beetle.
11. The first album I bought, aged 14 was hatful of Hollow by the Smiths- I still have it as a very treasured possession.

My chosen favourite blogs.

Loopy Freak with a list
Little Room of Rachel
Fox’s Lane
Little Red Squirrel
Little woollie
Lulu loves Crochet
Haken en Meer
Eclectic Gypsyland
Little Tin Bird
Betty and Annie
Poppy and Bliss

My 11 questions for them
1. When and why did you start to craft (crochet, knit, sew, make?)
2. What are your favourite colour combinations?
3. What have been the last 3 things you have made?
4. What would be your dream holiday destination and why?
5. What is your favourite food?
6. Who do you most admire – past or present?
7. Who would be at your dream dinner party?
8. What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
9. If you could live in any country which one would it be and why?
10. what would be your favourite film?
11. What will your next project (s) be?

I hope my nominees enjoy this as much as I have! Wishing you all the very best of weekends. xx

::Simple Mixtures::

I often think about how life can, at times, be a wonderfully simple mixture of a whole bunch of happy things. A great cup of coffee, a piece of homemade cake or a snatched moment of something creative. Crochet, family, food and a feast of sensory delights is my idea of the simple life – not necessarily in that order – a happy mixture.  So today I focussed on the things around me that brought me a simple pleasure – May Mixtures.

Image

Whilst catching up with all my Facebook and Blog friends, I saw this cushion and was immediately reminded of Lucy’s projects over at Attic24 for Yarndale this year. She’s championing Mandalas- It’s May Mandala Mayhem! The idea is really simple but incredibly effective. I saw this photograph a while ago, and it happens to be the same one that has inspired Lucy with her Yarndale project, from Finnish artist Anu Tuominen. Simple and stunning.

ImageThen there is the amazingly glorious Babette blanket from Ellblo on Ravelry, this stash busting arrangement of granny squares is the best I’ve seen so far. I LoVe LoVe it so much. It makes my heart squeeze and swell with adoration. Simple mixtures of colour and sizes, no black or white was her only rule. It works brilliantly.

Image

It always fills me with delight waking on Saturday mornings after a hectic week at work, to my crochet, Saturday Kitchen and a lovely leisurely breakfast with super good coffee and maybe even toast! Toast is such a simple pleasure- buttery, crispy and warm. No time during the week, oh no, porridge it is at 6.30am to fill me up until playtime (10.30am). Oh yes, toast is a simple pleasure for a simple life especially when someone else makes it for you!

Image

J decided to take me and little J out for lunch. We decided to go to Priest’s MiIl at Caldbeck again as I haven’t been since I was ill at February half term. I found my first glimpse of the bluebells that begin to fill the verges and hedgerows here, they sweep beautifully , nodding their heads in the breeze.ImageImage

Aren’t they just adorable?

Lunch was a simple affair; leek and cheddar tart and a mixture of delicious homemade salads, (they do the best apple chutney) with another good coffee. In fact it has been a good coffee day!

Image

A pop into the Wool Clip, for more Wild Wood Wool from Cecilia and Jean’s collection of delicious yarns. I went for a mixture of darker plum, grey and navy shades this time. I have a quick and easy project in mind. Image

On the return journey home we passed some beautiful trees, I just had to take a photo of them. Simple colours in nature but stunning.

Image

Image

Today seems to have been a mixture of lots of simple little bits and bobs, but I think they come together well enough in their own patchwork of simple snapshots.  It always fills me with joy to be reminded of the simple things around me, pulling me out of work mode and the intensity of work life at this time of year with the year sixes and all their changes. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life, mixtures and bubbles of calm moments, help to ground me over the weekends. Recharging my batteries, connecting with the world around me and stopping me in my tracks to appreciate all that is simple and good in my life brings me calm. I cherish it all. :O)xxxxx

:: 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?

granny square blanket mixture43

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!

Well I did it!!

Hi there to any new peeps over from my old blog site and a BIG grand HELLOOOO to any new peeps checking out my new and improved blog!! Great to have you here! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!! Karen xx