:: A diagnosis ::

Firstly I want to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes as I have been recovering, for supporting my little Facebook page and for helping to cheer me up with pictures, posts and news. So  I felt it only right to make a short but informative post. I have been very ill for over 3 months now, steadily getting better and slowly coming to terms with the diagnosis I have now got. A definite diagnosis. I have Addison’s Disease. addisons It makes sense now; not recovering from coughs, colds, developing Pneumonia with any chest infection, my asthma worsening rapidly and needing steroids in large does to enable my body to begin to climb back up. A diagnosis definitely helps. sea What it really means is that I am not making Cortisol so I have adrenal insufficiency. As well as having acute asthma and being hypothyroid, for which I take daily medication, I’m taking hydrocortisone 4 times a day to replace what my body isn’t making and it’s like being given a shot of energy and enthusiasm that brightens my world around me. I cannot tell you just how much the world comes into focus once the medication is taken. It’s like jump leads that kick me out of bed on a morning, they pull back the fog that takes over my brain, it gives me back the desire to try new things and the hope to see them through. You see, I haven’t even had the energy to crochet; although I finished my poncho (which I will get my blog post completed for), I have begun some projects, my heart blanket, and a hexagon scarf that have stalled a bit whilst I slept between eating and trying to get back to work. weekend hearts

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But the positive news and outlook is that I am not and will not let this take over my life. I will continue to do the things I love, including my full time job as Deputy Head teacher in a wonderful primary school. Yes it is demanding, and it has been oh so tough these last few months, but now I’m medicated I can get back to normal. A new normal; one with energy and hopefully involves evening s of wonderfully, colourful and creative hooky… not falling asleep at the drop of a hat!

I’m already working on a beautiful blanket, the pattern from Little Doolally, retro baby blanket for a colleague in school who is expecting her first child. I’m loving the crisp cotton, glazed colours and the combinations of the Drops Muscat yarn. It’s so lovely.

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I know I’m now on the road to recovery and it feels great. It will be a long while to get the dosages right, to understand how to self inject, to get to grips with exercising and dosing… It all needs time and thinking through. But I have a way forwards. It is life changing, but being positive, I know that I have wonderful family, friends and support to help me get back on my feet. I have a bright, colourful, crochet future ahead. Who knows what might happen now! :0) xxxxxxxx

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:: Getting out::

It’s been a strange two weeks: being ill, recuperating, readjusting and letting my body heal has been a difficult process. Being stuck in the house, too cold to go out side for my fragile lungs and airways, not having the energy to put on my boots, round after round of Doctor’s and Asthma Clinic visits, has now passed. So with oxygen and energy levels up and  feeling remarkably light this morning, I decided I was getting out. I went for a walk in the village.

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I put on my super snug Merrell boots, I love them so much, and my Toft Alpaca knitted hat (bought the kit at Yarndale), took my inhaler, wrapped myself up and there was no stopping me!

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It is such a dark, grey and damp kind of day here in The Lake District. Not the beautiful, snappy, crackly frosty days we’ve had of late. But it felt so good to have the fresh air in my lungs and to feel the cool air on my face.20150212_112119

I loved seeing the colours and textures of the hedgerows and the vibrant lichens and moss that are everywhere at the moment.

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The clouds looked ominous, but I trundled on, past the cow sheds, the new house being built (wow that has really come on!) and through the farm yard up the hill.20150212_111457

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I loved getting out- it started my creative mind working again, thinking of colour combinations, patterns and shapes.

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It reminded me of what I have missed- February! Cold, dark, grey, damp February. Or most of it.

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So backhome for a treat, coffee and homemade Coffee, Banana and Cardamon cake. I made this cake the other day – I was a bit naughty because I tore the page out of a Country Living Magazine at the Doctor’s surgery whilst waiting for one of my many appointments. It looked and sounded so delicious and with my tired and jaded appetite I thought it would be a great pick-me-up. I was soooo right! I’ve written it up for you here.

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So now feeling triumphant and refreshed (and a teensy bit shattered- well a lot actually) it is time to have a rest. I’m loving  the start of my Simply Crochet Simone Francis Poncho from issue 25. You can get the pattern here if you don’t have the magazine and I got my Drops Nepal yarn from Wool Warehouse. They are absolutely brilliant at getting your yarn to you super duper quick! So I’m off to have another round or two before lunch. Oh it was good getting out, I’ll be off for another walk tomorrow I think. :O)xxxxx

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::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

::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

 

::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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