::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

::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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::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

::Designing… Sketchbooks::

 

20140513_201705Preparation is everything… or so they say. Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.  Where do these sayings come from? Well lets not get into that now. Whenever I start a new project, preparation is where I start. Maybe it’s the Designer in me, the eternal problem solver, finding solutions to new challenges and trying to find the innovative and creative solution to them! It drives people around me quite nuts, sometimes; I’m never satisfied with just the most obvious, or easiest route.

There are many ways in which preparation manifests itself in any creative mind. For me it’s the use of a sketchbook. I urge you to have a go, there is a designer in everyone. Really there is!

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Why should I think about starting a sketchbook, I hear you say? Well, humour me a little. Have you got a pile of bits of recipes snippets, handwritten notes from someone who has passed on a recipe that you admired, scribbled something down from a packet, or even got the side of the packet? Some of you, like me, might even have an old handwritten notebook or box full of tried and tested recipes passed down or given to you from a Grandma, Aunty or friend, with notes on how they changed them, or adapted them to suit the season, or their oven. Passing on recipes is something we all do, we hand over our taste buds and lifestyles to someone to try for themselves. We give them our recipe treasures. For me a sketchbook full of colour, ideas, scribbles and shapes is the same. Patterns and ideas to share.

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Sketchbooks for me, are a fabulous way of preparing for any project, large or small; you can gather all of your ideas together, snippets from magazines with splashes of colour, shapes that delight and tickle the fancy or curiosity. A sketchbook becomes a beautiful thing in itself; full of all of those ideas that mill around in your mind, shifting, evolving, changing and developing. I like to think of a sketchbook as a pot of delicious stew bubbling along with developing and strengthening flavours. Then sometimes a design creeps up on you and pokes you on the shoulder to say, “Have you thought about…?” Other times it is a bolt of lightening, an intake of breath or a flash of inspiration… other sayings are available!

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Starting a sketchbook is really easy, whether you like to paint, knit, crochet, decoupage, sculpt, there are many craft and creative applications for them. I have cherished many of my sketchbooks from my Art College days, that are full of treasured memories, thought processes and are a record of my Creative Mind and it’s doodlings and musings. My teenage sons have browsed through my sketchbooks with me many times over the years, not unlike a photo album, and we have laughed at the sideways scribbled sketches from Parc Guell in Barcelona, delighted in the balconies of the Ramblas and the canals in Amsterdam. Sharing them fills me with joy. They are packed full of bits and bobs that evoke smells and sounds of the trips I made, and I can instantly see the textiles I made as a result. These sketchbooks both inspired and prepared me for design projects at Art college. Something to spark a creative path to be taken. A path I continue to take whenever I am designing something new- or trying out an idea.

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The main thing is to gather anything that appeals to your senses, that makes you heart swell with glee; make little sketches of things you see, write down words for things you hear or bring thoughts, smells and touches to mind. Add snippets of found objects, if they’re small enough, or photograph them to add to the eclectic mix. Include bits of yarn, thread, fabric. Create a shade card of the yarn story you want to use; a yarn shop will often let you have a snippet. The important thing is that the sketchbook begins to form a vivid and real picture of the design or colour story you wish to explore and helps the thought process along.

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Many of us get our inspiration from the Internet now, where there are a plethora of designs, ideas, photographs and colours to look at, print off and follow. Many of these designs are widely available as kits, with packs of everything you need to have a go yourself. These are a great way to have something to get started, I do it too. Sometimes, and this is the exciting bit, you can begin to see in the photos, pictures and ideas how you might make a slight change, a different yarn, an altered shape, even the size. This is where the true design process starts; with the seed of an idea.

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I’m currently using pages that will form a sketchbook in my preparation for making my Peruvian Poncho. I have been inspired by a Blogland friend’s amazingly beautiful and original design. But, I think I want mine to be a different shape, I want to use a different colour palette, I want to design my own sequence of stitches. My sketchbook has started. I’m doing my research. I have perused the internet for traditional Peruvian designs, made colour notes with pencil crayons, and also a shade card of the yarn I have chosen. I have chosen Cascade Peruvian Wool. This helps me to see the colour combinations and how they dance and sing to each other to create a harmony. I’m not expecting this to be a quick process – maybe it will be – but I’m enjoying the marinating of ideas, choosing the ingredients and considering what the finished poncho will be like. At the end, I’ll add a photo of the finished product.

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Eventually I know I will have a finished Poncho, unlike anyone else’s, individual to me, with my creative juices flowing through it. I hope it will inspire others, as I too was inspired. I hope that my sketchbook, with my design ideas, will be something I can come back to in years to come, with Grand children perhaps if I’m lucky, to bring back memories, sights, sounds, smells and feelings of deep satisfaction to savour. I hope all of my sketchbooks are something that will be passed on and treasured with memories of me. Go on have a go!


http://www.deramores.com/blog-awards: This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

::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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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