::Being mindful::

So it’s the end of February and I’m remarkably well. Not wanting to tempt fate and all that but feeling quite good. I am being more mindful…. For me that means saying no, understanding I am one person and only can do so much, being able to recognise what I have achieved and the biggest challenge for me, accepting myself. Yes I would love to be a stone lighter, yes I would very much like to be awake at 10pm instead of falling asleep half way (if I’m lucky) through a movie and I would very much like to enjoy chocolate, bread, cheese and wine without feeling ill the next day. But these things are minor.

teaI have a lot to be mindful and thankful for. I’m loving my new job; yes there are challenges, 4 maternity leaves to cover with half of my senior leadership team having babies. My to do list increase daily without ever hoping to reduce. I am eating, sleeping and dreaming about school and all the possibilities, plans and the differences we can make to the children. The children are fantastic, they make the long hours worthwhile. I’m constantly mindful of what I can do to improve their life experiences. I’m also busy busy making the first of those four baby blankets- this particular one is for a nursery being decorated in chevrons, stars and using a colour scheme of white, grey, lime and purple. She doesn’t know what she is having, so I think she has covered all bases there!

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Then there is my wonderful family, two gorgeous sons (l can’t call them boys now at 17 and 20) and their fantastic dad, my Hubby. They keep me safe from myself, anchor me when I wobble and are always there to prop me up when I need a boost. They are mindful, as am I, that the times we have together now as a family are precious. They will be off into the world to explore and their own lives, hopefully as equipped for adventure as possible. Well at least E has his new blanket, a man-ghan I believe they are called! I have loved making this C2C stitch blanket using a colour recipe from The Patchwork Heart and the stitch instructions from the Felted Button.

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Being mindful, enjoying the moment, connecting to the world around us. I did this at an exhibition this week at Rheged a local venue which hosts many beautiful textile works and events. If you are up north this way in the next few weeks I thoroughly recommend a trip to see it. It is stunning; the colours and the way the Harris Tweed is born from the land and the environment. I sat and immersed myself in the beauty of the images by Ian Lawson.

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There are walks and journeys around his beautiful area that I live in- The Lake District National Park. Simply stunning and just on my doorstep.

viewSo as I look out at the dreary, Cumbria rain which we get a lot of, I am happy to be making baby blankets and playing with designs and colours. I’m happy to be travelling through the beautiful western Lake District every day on my way to and from work, especially now the mornings and nights are getting lighter. I’m happy to be going away to Kendal with my lovely hubby to recharge my batteries and enjoy some pampering together before the craziness of school returns on Monday. I’m happy to be mindful. Xx

Heellloooo, I’m still here!

Hellooooooooo…… (taps on glass)….. anyone there?blanketsIt has been an awfully long time since I said hello and put fingers to the WordPress keyboard! A lot has happened.

And it has all changed…

So what have I been up to? I returned to school fit and healthy in September in my role as Deputy Head teacher and had a wonderful few weeks where I remained healthy. I saw my Endocrinologist… she was lovely and put me on the right track with my Addison’s disease medication. She also reassured me that I was ok to feel the way I did – annoyed, frustrated and limited some days. But continued to remind me that being mindful and kinder to myself was the way to go. I knew she was right!lifeI was then ummming and ahhhing about whether to go for the Headship I really wanted – lots of questions in my mind about whether I would cope physically, mentally, emotionally and the stress of the post, moving from my familiar and supportive environment. I decided, with the support of my wonderful family, friends and colleagues, that I would give it a go and wouldn’t let my health hold me back if I could.

Guess what? I got the job!! So In January I started my new role and I am loving it! I have more me time, I’m still healthy (fingers crossed) and this is the first January/February in three years where I haven’t been super-poorly, hospital bound and off work. I’ve even managed to keep going with my crochet projects as you can see (the baby isn’t mine as beautiful and adorable as she is, but the blanket is!).projects

It was lovely to get to the end of the year after a frantic Autumn term and evaluate, as you do, the year as it is ready to pass by. Projects, decisions, events and reflecting on what is manageable, important and necessary. I know that this illness has had a huge affect on me, my family and the way I now look at life. I’m still making my crochet blankets, which I love. I’m still pottering on with my gifts and presents – I love a baby blanket; I love a poncho.

Just wanted to say…It’s good to be back in Blogland. I’m still here! xxxxxxxxx

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:: Catching up – A trip to Iceland ::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The colour contrasts were breathtaking. 20150403_160904 20150403_160342

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

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

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

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

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

_DSC0285_DSC0283Out to the ocean and glaciers.20150405_132220

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The spectacular church.

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

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

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

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

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Yes, I did come home with yarn….Lettlopi

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

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

:: Ta-dah – Cosy Stripe Blanket ::

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

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

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

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

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

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Work and crochet??!!cosy b 5

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

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Crabbies and Crochet at Cambridge Folk Festival…crabbies and crochet

Snoozing and crochet at Cambridge Folk Festival…cosy b

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

Love the colours. Ahhh

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

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

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Isn’t it beautiful? So well balanced.

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

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

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

 

 

::Ta-Dah! Cosy Ripple Blanket::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

::Nearly new beginning::

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

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

I was very very sad.

But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

::Ta-Dah!! Pretty Poncho happiness::

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Oh my goodness! It is with great pleasure that I am FINALLY sharing this with you. After the planning, designing and deciding stages, then months and months of making, tweaking and finalising, it has to be the most favourite thing I have ever made and I ‘m so happy with it. My Pretty Poncho.

CAM00189It all started when I saw a beautiful Pretty Peruvian pPoncho in a magazine and was umming and arhhing about whether to make one. I began collecting images of ponchos that I loved here on my Pinterest board Poncho Love. Then to top it all off, I saw my blog friend Lucy’s Home Poncho over on Attic24 and I decided YES! It can get a bit chilly here in the Hayloft especially when you move away from the Aga in the kitchen. Many evenings working on school work, sometimes blogging and catching up with my Facebook friends, can get a bit shivery. A poncho would be just the job. It wouldn’t slip off my shoulders like my blanket sometimes does!CAM00191So it started back in February with this post. It started when I spotted this amazing yarn from Deramores Cascade 220 solid in it’s amazing range of about 150 colours. Yes approximately 150 colours of pure peruvian wool. Poncho heaven.

20140420_190606There was some designing involved, taking me back to my design roots. I have a Bachelor of Design degree in textiles, bet many of you don’t know that! Yes I do! I worked freelance in the textile industry designing knitwear and attending trade shows around the world before my two little bundles of joy arrived. So with my pretty poncho project, I gave myself the opportunity to design, to play with the scrumptious colours, to mood board, sketch, create shade cards and to play! I explain about all of this in my entry for the blog awards.

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I made a start; with no pattern to go from I felt my way and tried to keep to the image in my head of how I wanted it to turn out! Not an easy task, really, especially when you want it to be finished like yesterday! I can be so impatient and rush ahead. But no, I wanted my poncho to be beautiful, and I didn’t want to have to pull it out; frogging can be so tiresome!

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As you can see I started with a square ‘hole’ for my head! Wrong!! I pulled it out and started again, this time with 42 foundation chains, then I slipped stitch 3 into the end one before returning 42 chains back and slip stitching it together and making 3 slip stithies into this end too. Then there was that tricky first row of double crochets. Tricky because you have to make sure the chain doesn’t twist! Careful now… no twisting! Yay!! Phew

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As I got to the ‘points’  I made two stitches into the point stitch, then slip stitch and then two more stitches into the point stitch. This gave me a new point and a space in the middle of it to make a new point on the next round. I hope that makes sense! This gave me the classic ‘v’ shaped poncho with a point at each side- front and back. Oh it made my brain hurt for a bit, but once sorted I was off!

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I know some of you will want to know about the colours I chose – a very tricky job when there are almost 150 amazing Cascade colours to choose from all singing and zinging. However, I knew my palette would be based on my favourite colours of teal, raspberry, lime and purple, with some peruvian poncho red, orange and a hint of blue. There were many colours that I introduced and only used once or twice, one of them was yellow, it just didn’t please me. Then there were others that went together in a stunning way – of course there were others that got rapidly pulled out because they didn’t quite ‘click’. Overall I am blissfully happy with my colour combos and there are little areas where I have taken colour inspiration for other projects. My ripple blanket for example.

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It was extremely satisfying to se my poncho grow before my eyes. The Cascade 220 is a chunky yarn and is so wonderfully easy to crochet with no splitting or squeaking, it just flows off the hook in a wonderful rhythm. I used a 5mm Addis hook, I like the way it fits in my hand, especially for this chunky yarn. The pattern for the poncho is of my own making, based on a kind of granny stripe idea. I made it up as I went along; rows of trebles and doubles, some treble clusters and there is a kind of repeat, of pattern anyway not colour combos! Getting through the rows didn’t take so long really. All 73 beautiful rows. The rows basically go like this; {dc- single trb – dc – single trb – single trb – dc – single trb –  dc – dc – trb clusters – single trb – trb clusters } and back to the start. There was a point half way where I did two rows of treble closers back to back to mark the halfway down point!

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Outside evening hooky is so wonderfully relaxing, and I whiled away the hours sitting in the garden over the late spring into summer, entertaining friends and sometimes just entertaining myself enjoying the early summer. I wanted to get my poncho finished to wear in France on our holiday and the stitches found their way through the fabric and the colours began to blend; it has been so admired.

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Then there was a row of picot edging around the top edge and the tassels! Oh wow, they took a while. 126 perfectly formed shamrock style flowers – just because I liked them. Oh I loved making them. I took both of these patterns from my Edie Eckman book Around the corner. They were pinned and blocked so that they would hang beautifully and not curl up and yes, that did take some time, but it was very worthwhile. They swish and tassel and swing in style!

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Finally there were the ends! I sewed each one in individually as I find it gives a better finish and they are firm: I am more confident that they won’t unravel and twist out. Again time consuming but very worth it, having spent so long on this project, it was the right thing to do.

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20140726_230441So there you have it. Are you ready for the Pretty Poncho reveal? It was ready to go to France and I had great fun prancing about in the maize fields (sadly the sunflowers were passed their best) with Mr Mixture wielding the camera. Work that poncho Mrs Mixture!

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There you have it. My Pretty Peruvian Poncho. I love it. I have given as many nuggets of help as I can in this post so if you want to have a go-please do. I would love to see any peruvian poncho inspired makes. However I won’t write up the pattern – it grew organically and it would take me a very long time to get it written up into some kind of order. I am very willing to help anyone who would like a try. Go on- have a go. You won’t regret it! :O)xxx