Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Full Swing

Autumn is in full swing here. The magazines are full of pumpkins and cakes, my kitchen is full of pumpkins and cakes, and I've been crocheting up an autumnal storm, although not of the Ophelia* kind. I've planted tubs with tulip bulbs and filled the large planter on the decking with about a hundred daffodils bulbs. I'm scouring Ravelry for the perfect crochet shawl or scarf pattern and wondering if I might crochet a jumper, if I can just find a pattern I really like. My only complaint is that it's still much too warm for the time of year, and this interferes with both my desire to light the wood burning stove and to wear my woolly scarves. I would like some crisp, dry days please, where it's chilly enough to see your breath in the air but not so cold your toes are numb.

The woods are glorious right about now, and they're just going to get better over the next couple of weeks. I love the woods in autumn. The other time I really love them is in early spring, when they're full of bluebells and wild garlic, but I think I prefer them when they're full of fungi and the leaves flutter down around you as you walk under the trees.

It's been a mixed few weeks here. A combination of terrible sleep and busy days finally caught up with me and I came down with a horrible virus last week and I had to take two days off work, where I moped around the house coughing and feeling sorry for myself. John happened to be home for one of them and that day was nice - he cooked me lunch, baked brownies, brought me cups of tea, ferried the kids to and from school, looked after the dog. The day after that was a lot less relaxing. I returned to work feeling a bit better, but with very little voice, and a lingering cough that meant I had to sleep propped up on pillows. One week later I feel well again, finally, but very tired and I am glad it's half term next week. 

Ziggy is doing well and these photos make me realise how fast he is growing. We can walk him now, and I have really been enjoying getting out and about each day, even if the walks are short. Ziggy was ambivalent to begin with but is already getting used to other dogs, cars and all the hustle and bustle he sees on his walks around our area. Lots of treats help. I have to keep reminding myself how little he is though, for he is as exhausting as he is endearing, as disruptive as he is delightful. Honestly, I could write a list of things that have been trashed or chewed; plants, toys, table legs, drawer knobs, shelves. If we don't keep the bathroom door closed he dashes in there, grabs the toilet brush then runs off with it so that he can chew it and wave just generally wave it around the place. I try to stay calm, really I do. It's not as if he doesn't have a basket full of puppy-safe bones, toys, chews, name it, it's there. But like a toddler, he'd rather play with the packaging, or with the thing he's not allowed to play with.

Fellow crocheters: have you come across the Secret Crochet Club? It's a monthly subscription scheme in which you receive a box each month full of yarny goodness; pattern, yarn, hook - everything you need to make what's inside the box - and a few goodies too. They kindly sent me one to try and it's just the loveliest thing.

The best thing about it is having no idea what's inside.

Mine contained everything I need to crochet myself this colourful bag, plus useful bits like a WIP planner/notebook, which is actually a really excellent idea. There were chocolates too. I got quite excited about the chocolate. 

It's a great idea and would make a very nice Christmas present for someone you know who loves to crochet, or for yourself. 

*For those not in the UK, we had a very strange weather phenomenon on Monday afternoon. The sky had been a really odd, yellowy-orange colour all day, and the sun glowed red. Around lunchtime it became quite dark, as though we were about to have a huge storm, then got darker still. Streetlights even came on in some places. It was very, very eerie. Then, by the time I left work, it had all cleared and the world had not ended. I believe it was a combination of Saharan dust and smoke from Iberian forest fires brought up into the atmosphere by Hurricane Ophelia and blown over the UK, which all sounds very sensible but it was quite unsettling.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

A Little Room Refresh

I had been thinking for some time about repainting the wall in our porch/lobby area. The room holds a couple of pieces of furniture; a white shoe rack and a stool, both IKEA, but mainly it's a room we pass through before going into the entrance hall.  It was a bright green before, sometimes called Kelly green I believe, and you can see a photo of what it was like before and after at the bottom of this post. I did like the green but it's easy to tire of such a strong colour and, since there is only one plastered wall in the porch (the other three being glass windows and doors) it's quick to repaint. I used the same dark grey* we already have in our dining room, partly because I love it, and - ever thrifty - we have a lot of it left over in the garage. This little redecoration gave me an opportunity to play around with pictures and lights, and make the room a little more practical. 

At around the same time, Sainsbury's got in touch with me and asked if I'd like to review some items from their new Home ranges for Autumn/Winter. I had a look and decided straight away that their Nordic Skies range was very much my cup of tea and contained some really lovely pieces that I knew would work really well in our home, and so I chose some items.

Something that was going to be very useful was a set of these wooden peg hooks which will hold Ziggy's lead and other dog walking paraphernalia. We are all of us - dog and humans - counting down the days until he's twelve weeks old and can go out for walks and burn off some of his energy, and perhaps sleep a little better at night.

A basket sits under the rack, ready to hold things like poo bags, old tea towels to wipe muddy paws, treats, a coat. I also crocheted a new cover for the stool, in some gorgeous chunky mustard yarn, as the old one had seen better days.

These tealight houses look lovely perched on top of the shoe rack. Bella has her eye on them and I don't think it'll be long before I find them up in her bedroom.

I think this lidded storage basket is brilliant. It holds my yarn and it has a lid, which makes a perfect little table and somewhere to put my cup of tea. Usually I put my cup of tea on the floor, where I inevitably knock it over. Honestly, I tell the children off for doing things like that...

I absolutely adore this small geometric cushion - the colours and pattern are so soothing, and the crewel work texture is nicely done. 

This larger, cotton cushion is squishy and comfortable, perfect for reading in bed. Both cushions have removable, washable covers, which is important, especially in a house with children and a dog. (And adults who always knock over their cups of tea.)

I have dotted these tree ormanents here and there around the house; on the mantel in the living room, and in Angus's bedroom. They fit well with the other pieces in his room and he likes using them as props when he plays. They would also look great dotted along a table as part of a winter or Christmas dinner setting. 

For the kitchen, I was very practical. Another sieve is always useful, and I like the smaller size of this one and the silicone handle.

And a cake tin, because you can never have too many. Especially when they are filled with cake.

While the ranges are available in the stores, it doesn't seem that the full Nordic Skies range is on the Sainsbury's website yet. I've included links where I can find them, but for those items without links I've just included as much information as I have. I hope Sainsbury's sort this out soon and sell their full range online. Not everyone has a Sainsbury's near them, or can get to one, so it would make sense for them to make it easier for customers to shop their Home ranges from their website. Especially when the products are so good and well priced.

Wooden peg hooks £6
LED Houses, set of three £12
Metal storage basket £16
Crewel Geo Cushion £12
Tree objet £9

And finally, the porch before and after:

This is a sponsored post. All products were gifted to me by Sainsbury's. All opinions are my own, and I hope you all know that I wouldn't write about something here if I didn't genuinely like it or think it was worth having in our home. 

* Empirical Grey by Valspar, from B&Q. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Box of Crocheted Fruit

You may remember that, last spring, I made some crocheted vegetables for the school I work in. They were a delight to make and I was quite happy to give them away when I'd finished them because I'd already had so much fun crocheting, stuffing and photographing them.

I'd always intended to create a box of fruit too and, over the last six weeks, I have been slowly putting together a collection of nine items. As with the vegetables, a really fun part of the project was styling the crocheted fruits with some real ones, or arranging them on a plate or in a bowl. I enjoyed this so much. 

They were all a pleasure to make. Some, like the strawberry and plum, took an hour to make from start to finish. Others, like the grapes (those grapes!) took days and days; eighteen little crochet balls which needed to be made, stuffed and sewn up before being attached to a stem and leaves. The banana was fun, I think that was a really well designed pattern. The pear is my favourite though; the muted colour, the shape, the soft squishiness of the finished fruit.

I used cotton DK yarn, mainly scraps, in a mixture of mercerised and unmercerised yarn. The mercerised yarn (in the plum and apple for example) is slightly shiny and doesn't split as easily, so it's lovely to work with. The unmercerised yarn (such as the pear) is more organic, untreated, and has a duller sheen and splits more when you work. I actually prefer the look of it. Each fruit was crocheted on a 3mm hook.

I thought I'd scratched my crochet fruit itch with this lot, but I am already planning some pumpkins to decorate the house with this autumn.

I'll be joining in with Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party again over the coming months. I am usually more productive with my crochet and sewing when the weather is colder - especially when there are Christmas gifts to be made - and it's good to share them here and see what others who join up with the party are making too.