::Hexagon happiness::

Oh how much happiness can there be in a little hexagon of crocheted loveliness? Well a lot actually! Whilst waiting for my new yarn to arrive from Wool warehouse for my Simply Crochet poncho project (a bit of a filler whilst I recover – see here), I decided to extend the glorious colourfulness I enjoyed with my Cosy Ripple Blanket and make something with the teensy weeny bits and bobs left over.20150206_102645So hexagons it is! Oh and how much hexagon happiness I am enjoying.hex 2Something I’ve never tried before is the join as you go- which is AmAzInG!!! I love it – it grows and grows so cleverly. I have been careful where to place the motifs though, so that the colours are even and random.20150209_16250120150206_102615Here is how I make my hexagon motif: I started off with a chain of 4 slip stitches together in colour A. Then join colour B, and chain 3, 1 treble into the ext space, chain 1 then 1 treble into the next space until there are 12 trebles. Join to the 3rd space of the chain and change to colour C. Chain three (this counts as the first treble) then I’ve made 3 trebles into each space around the little circle and then close with a chain into the 3rd space on the first ‘treble’. Next, chain three and slip stitch into the space at the end of the first treble set, chain three again and repeat all the way round until back at the 3 chain. Then using the same colour, treble 3 into the space made under the chain, chain 2 then 3 trebles into the same space again. This forms a corner. Then 3 trebles into the next space under the next chain, then make a corner again into the next 3 chain space along. Keep going all the way round until you have 6 sides and corners!

20150209_162439Ta- dah! A hexagon! I had a peep at this very handy “how-to’ guide over on Tangled Yarns. It will help to see the really clear pictures of how to join.20150209_162423Also – I’m picking my motif colours totally at random! As long as it’s not already in the motif I’ll use it. This has made for some surprisingly good colour combos, and some that have been ‘ok’. But I said I’d do it randomly so I have stuck to it, as difficult as it has been sometimes. Still deciding what I’m going to make. Might make a shawl-like scarf, a table runner or an end of bed runner to keep mine and J’s feet warm in this cold spell we’re having. But for now I’m enjoying the hexagon happiness rhythm and flow. Pop back soon, :O)xxxxxxx

::This time of year::


tulipsIt’s official, my body doesn’t like Winter! I always find this time of year, January and February so very difficult to keep well, despite my best efforts and goals. I am mindful of all the environmental factors which affect me. I don’t indulge in heavy glutenous and dairy laden foods over Christmas, I eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and I take my medication. However, it is always with disappointment that I find myself needing to heal myself yet again in the cold, dark winter months. My asthma, hypothyroid and allergies just don’t like this time of year.

IMG_20141228_131420328_HDRIn an effort to try anything to stay as healthy and energised I feel in the warmer summer months, I have turned to a variety of forums, books, websites and articles on keeping well at this time of year. I know I’m not alone in this. I have reduced my processed sugar intake, I’m careful about everything I eat, I take my medication, I do yoga daily (morning and night) to help me wake and sleep, and along with a 45 minute commute, I have a demanding full time job as a Deputy Head teacher and Year six class teacher that I love and I’m actually pretty good at! Family, friends and my craft interests keep me sane and support me. I am very lucky.

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Still, it got me, whatever IT is? An asthmatic trigger on the train? A day in an air conditioned conference room? A virus from one of my lovely school children? I have no idea. All I know is I cannot breathe and my doctor is concerned saying my asthma is “acute and brittle.” More tests and X-rays to determine the “picture”.

So what to do now…? I’m determined not to close myself up and hide away just in case I am triggered by anything. Of course, I’m sensible, I avoid as much as possible any areas I know affect me; oil, petrol, paint, sprays, perfume, dust, dogs, dramatic changes in temperature, coughs, colds and bugs. But It is very difficult to avoid them all and  want to lead a normal life doing the things I love, make me happy and fulfil me.

The answer is rest, eat well, sleep lots and watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns all the way from Season 1, I love Amazon Prime! Oh and crochet- yes how could I forget? Watch the snow falling outside; the way the light changes, the landscape blanketed in a white, wooly covering.

So I won’t feel sorry for myself, it’s this time of year. I’ll complete my Ripple blanket, the rhythm of the ripple echoing my loud, shallow breathing. The ends are sewn in and the edging is nearly done.  Looking forwards to sharing soon. :O)xxxxxends

 

 

::Cosy ripple blanket::

ripple 2It was some time in October when I started my Cosy Ripple Blanket plans. I was so inspired by Lucy’s Cosy CAL at Attic24 and the vibrancy and freshness of her Autumnal palette. I too had wowed and sighed over the wonderful combinations of colours at 5ftinf reflecting the fruits and colours of the seasons. The colours were cosy, rich and inviting reminding me of days spent kicking leaves, conkers, picking up silvery grey feathers and a mixture of green and nut-brown acorns.

ripple 6My Cosy Ripple Blanket palette started something like this; various browns, beiges, reds, chestnuts, lilac, purple and then the delicious yellows and slate blues, the colours of the countryside around me. I started to play with colour, trial and development. I’m using Stylecraft Special DK with the addition of a couple of colours from my stash. I get mine from Deramores but there are various other suppliers including Wool Warehouse.

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It is coming along nicely now and I LoVeD LoVeD LoVeD snuggling under it over the family filled Christmas days and evenings, the happy, soothing rippling rhythm building layer upon layer of colour and warmth.

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It won’t be long before I’m sharing my Ta-Dah post with my colours, stitches and sizes. Just need to think about the edging now. Any ideas? Let me know. :O)xxxxx

::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

::That holiday feeling::

I’m feeling refreshed and beginning to get that holiday feeling now: the one just before we go away. We’re preparing for a three week holiday in France- yes, that’s right three weeks! I am so happy to be rested and ready with my holiday feeling just about peaking ready for the off.

poncho edgeOver the last few weeks I have completed many projects that have prepared me for that holiday feeling and in readiness for the new term in September. Here are a few peeks.

20140726_21153920140726_230441Oh those ends, they always take ages and I dread starting them but it looks so much better once they’re done. This is just a sneaky peak at my completed Poncho- I’m taking it to France to photograph in the beautiful and abundant sunflower fields surrounding the house we will be staying at (once we’ve left Paris!) I think having spent  months on this project and taking so much care and attention of it that it’s only right for me to do it justice in a proper photo shoot! YaY! I do looooove this project so much- it really does make my heart sing just to look at it and feel it’s glorious textures! Ahhhhhhhh… (sighs wistfully).poncho finishingI’m hoping that I’ll be able to wear my poncho on those dusky, sunset evenings when it is feeling a little chilly in the air. Oh happy holiday! Next there was the arrival of some beautiful Drops Muskat cotton- well I had ordered it so it was expected. But how soft, luscious and lovely this yarn is – waiting to be whipped up into some beautiful blankets and cushions me thinks!

muskatThen there was the completing of my classroom- having moved classrooms again. This is a huge job, files, resources, relabelling drawers (which my amazing class partner K will do this time) and then the reorganising, re-theming and sorting out of everything from bookshelves to backing paper. As we’re doing a terms topic on The Victorians, we decided to go with a Sherlock theme for the first half term (and a Charles Dickens one for the next half when we do Oliver Twist). Also a bit of a school room feel. What do you think?20140804_13003420140804_130055

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And then there are my garden projects. I’ve never been able to grow Clematis before, they’ve always wilted, dried up, died or just never done anything. But look..

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A proper flower and seed head! I love how this looks so spiky but it’s actually really soft and fluffy! Then there are my geraniums and nasturtiums ditto for them too- it must be the weather we’ve had this year. I know, back in June,  when I see summer blooms that the holidays are not far around the corner.

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So we are getting packed and ready to load up the roof box, pack those bags (including suncream and aftersun, of course), crank up the bike rack and of course the crochet bag. I’ll be working on my kaleidoscope blanket whilst I’m away- lots to catch up on and it’s quite portable and not so big and warm to sit under! Hey ho! That holiday feeling- ready, steady, we’re off!

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::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

:: 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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