Thursday, 30 March 2017

Angus's Blanket

It's done, and he likes it.

It started off as one of those stash busting projects and when will I learn that those don't work? You never have enough yarn and so you always have to buy more yarn, but it's never quite the colours/brand that you were trying to use up, resulting  - in my case - in some dubious colours. 

I'm hoping that this doesn't show, that actually the multi-coloured rows work next to each other, that the end result is pleasing. It certainly adds a pop of colour to a largely monochrome bedroom!

I often feel a bit flat after I've finished a blanket, a little ambivalent about the finished result, and I think it's because they are such a mammoth projects that I grow weary of them. I need to put the blanket away, get it out in three months, and realise how beautiful it is. 

I think also that my tastes in blankets have changed recently. I'd like to make something calmer next, perhaps in one or two colours, with the emphasis more on texture than colour. Something that isn't a granny stripe or ripple or chevron design. But this is what I do know: the next blanket I make will be for me, the pattern will be all my own choosing, I will buy yarn (good yarn!) specifically for that project instead of cobbling it together from scraps, and it will be luxurious and beautiful.

But this is what I have made: a blanket that is practical, washable, colourful, full of contrast, full of love. That is a good thing to have made.

As always with blankets, I gained momentum as the project neared it's end and I have to say that I enjoyed every stitch of the border (details below) and think that is a great pattern.

So, one blanket for a lovely little boy. I asked him what he likes about it - once we'd all gotten over the tragic fact that it was not black and white and not a "badger blanket" - and, quite simply, he likes that I crocheted it for him. Nothing more than that. He just likes that I made it. That makes me very happy. 


Blanket details:

Hook: 4 mm

Yarn: mostly Stylecraft Special DK with some Deramores Studio DK leftover from another project.

The Stylecraft Special DK colours are:

The Deramores Studio DK colours are below with Stylecraft suggestions for a close match in brackets:
blush (raspberry or pomegranate)
topaz (aster or turquoise)
indigo (midnight)

Size: 150 cm wide x 170 cm long

Pattern for blanket: the fabulous Attic24

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Dancing Washing and Blushing Oranges

Wasn't the weather gorgeous this weekend? We had sun and blue skies and it was especially welcome after all the freezing rain and wind we had last week. I spent as much time outside as I could, from my coffee in the garden first thing on Saturday morning to a walk in the woods this afternoon. The children and the dog are constantly running between house and garden, in and out, the kitchen door permanently left open despite my protestations. The wind is still quite cold - it's only March, after all.

Saturday began with pancakes, our tradition when it's John's weekend off, and a cherished ritual of mine. John leaves for work at 6.30am on weekdays, just as we're all getting up, so breakfast - especially a slow, unrushed one - together is lovely.

We went for a walk down to the shore, where sun was squintingly bright and the wind whipped my hair in my face. Molly showed incredible restraint and didn't bark at a single dog (although she pulled on her lead a lot) so that was a nice change. She's usually noisier. 

We came home to hang out the washing and examine our treasures. Angus's eagle eyes had picked out some flint and a broken bit of pot - possibly archaeologically very valuable, we're not sure - which he scrubbed carefully then added to his Treasure Box which contains things like sea glass, stones, bits of twig, feathers - you know, important stuff.

I spent all afternoon in the garden. This was my first proper gardening session this year and, I don't know if it's the same for you, but I kind of have to psyche myself up. The thought of what there is to do overwhelms me and I put it off, but then - like exercise - you feel so much better for doing it afterwards. I tidied and trimmed, swept and weeded, and felt a tiny amount of control return. The grass was raked vigorously and looked better for it. Honestly, if you want to get rid of your moss problem, get a greyhound.

Although you might lose your grass too.

My parents came over later in the afternoon to help me with the back border. We removed the edging of assorted rocks and stones and created a straight line, easier to mow and keep tidy. I'm enjoying looking out of the kitchen window and seeing something pleasingly neat, rather than chaotic and overgrown.

The garden has really come to life in the last couple of weeks. The daffodils are over now, but the wallflowers are just coming out and the tulips are on the way.

I have plans for this planter which, as you can see, we use as a dumping ground. I'd like to paint it and move it to a new spot, fill it with canes and plant sweet peas. I used to grow sweet peas a lot when we lived in Leeds. Sometimes I think I enjoyed our smaller garden there more. It felt more manageable somehow. What colour should I paint it do you think?

Inside, I'm still enjoying the grape hyacinths, even as they droop.

I'm also enjoying watching the late afternoon light move it's way around the house, creating dramatic shadows and highlighting corners that were in darkness a few weeks ago.

 This morning started well with handmade cards and cuddles in bed. I was just getting settled in bed with a magazine and drink, the curtains open in front of me and the light streaming in, when I remembered the clocks had gone forwards. I don't know why but this really annoyed me and I spent the rest of the morning rushing around in a grump, doing chores and bemoaning the lost hour that I was going to spend doing nothing.

Molly looks quite comfortable there, doesn't she? Her latest thing is to lie in a sunbeam until she's so warm she's panting, then go and stand by the back door. When you open it, she doesn't go outside, but just stands in the breeze, nose twitching, sniffing the air until she cools down. Then she goes back to her sunny spot.

Sheltered from the wind, the woods were almost warm this afternoon, and we went out in our shirtsleeves, and with sunglasses too. So nice. Simple pleasures.

Our weekend ended with a big mother's day get together at my parent's house, with my sisters and all the grandchildren. We each had to bring dessert and John decided to make a Blood Orange Cheesecake. Blood oranges could not be found however, not even in Waitrose, so we made a Blush Orange Cheesecake, whatever that is. Either way it was delicious.

Can you see where I stuck my finger into the topping to see if it had set? 

My sisters brought a chocolate fudge cake and banoffee pie.  I didn't get a photo of the banoffee pie but I ate a lot of it.

It occurs to me that I've eaten rather a lot of cake this weekend. But I've done a lot of gardening and walking too so it probably balances out. Sort of. 

Happy Mother's Day to you.  

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Food and Flowers

Lately, on the home front there have been....

:: Shepherd's Pies that were equally enjoyed by the children, John and I, and my eighty eight year old Granddad.

:: blackberry and apple pies with pastry that sunk and shrunk but still tasted so good.

:: overflowing jam tarts

:: fresh batches of homemade chocolate granola

:: organised Sunday cooking, in the form of bulgar wheat salad for my work lunches during the week

:: Blondies, made by Bella - soft and chewy and as tasty as you would expect something that contains a full pack of butter and 250g white chocolate to be. 

:: frustrating unravelling of rows of crochet due to missing one stitch (I blame my distracted, rushed crochet while the kids are at their swimming lessons....)

:: the antidote - pleasing, soothing crochet in the form of a border for this blanket

:: grape hyacinths which grow abundantly in the front garden, picked and placed in a vase on my bedside table

:: thoughts that maybe I've had enough of the green wall and perhaps it's time for a change

:: thoughts that really our porch/lobby is a waste of time since all we do is store shoes in there, and wouldn't it be better if we just removed the internal door and window to make the whole hallway so much brighter and bigger.... (Me - yes, John - no)

That's what is going on around here at the moment; a lot of cooking, some flowers, a little crochet and always, always, thoughts and conversations about the house, and the next decorating project, and what we could do improve the space we have and make it work better for us. When I say conversations, I mean I talk a lot and wave pictures from Pinterest on my phone under John's nose, and he says things like "We can't afford it", "Gill, I don't think you realise what a massive job that would be", and "If we do that we'll have to replace the floor..."  Undeterred, I persevere. Is it the same in your home?

Talk of knocking down walls aside, it's not really feeling very spring-like here at the moment. In fact, it's pretty cold. John had to scrape ice off the car this morning and I needed gloves on my morning dog walk. I desperately need to spend some time in our poor garden. I was going to tackle it last weekend, I was, but it was really windy so I sat inside with coffee and a magazine instead.

 Thank you all so, so much for your lovely comments on Angus's bedroom. I'm really glad you like it too. I hope spring arrives soon for everyone.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Room Tour: Angus's Bedroom

I have absolutely loved this decorating project for all sorts of reasons; it's a nice room with loads of storage which makes everything easier, it's bright, I love the colours, and Angus just let me get on with it. As long as I incorporated his favourite things - badgers, books, forests, nature - he was happy for me to do my thing. Questions were met with shrugs, nods or head shakes. 

One of my favourite things about the room is how the painted bed turned out. I love how with a bit of sanding and painting it looks so much better than it did before and only cost me the price of the tin of paint. The hand-stamped bedding was time consuming to make, but worth the effort and washes really well. The yellow cushion is one I've had for some time, moved from it's home in the living room.

My other favourite part is the gallery wall above the bed. I was going for a sort of monochrome nature/forest theme but added two handmade embroidery hoops to stop it all looking too boring. The garland above I made with felt balls strung on white cotton thread.

The new-to-us carpet makes a huge difference to the room. It's warmer and softer than the one we removed and the light brown colour stops the space feeling too chilly. I was also very excited when I remembered that I had my Dad's old vintage anglepoise lamp in the garage and that it still works, and it looks great on Angus's bedside table.

The blind was already there but I decorated it with black fabric paint and a potato stamp. I was unsure about this at first but it's grown on me and I love it now.

The bookcase works much better in this new position and gives Angus more floor space for playing. 

There is a little space at the side, just perfect for beanbag. I've seen a pattern for a crocheted one which I really like.

His desk also works much better in it's new position, in an alcove under a wall light. I've noticed that Angus sits here much more now than he did before.

I made this wall hanging from some wool felt and a thin baton of wood. I'd seen similar things on trendy children's websites and thought it would be pretty easy to make something of my own.

Unfortunately, the original IKEA chest of drawers - already damaged when we moved house - fell to pieces when we tried to move it so we had to buy a new one. It's only a cheap white flat-pack one but I enjoyed personalising it with new handles. And really, I don't think the children necessarily need investment, high quality furniture in their rooms. It takes such a battering, and they change their needs so frequently. I'd rather save up for a good sofa, say, or dining room table. 

The black and white basket used to live in our hallway but I think it works much better in here as toy storage.

I worked really hard to keep the costs as low as possible throughout this project, only buying: the chest of drawers, paint, prints, a couple of frames, a tree rubber stamp, craft supplies and drawer knobs. There was also the cost of fitting the carpet.

I gave the bed, blind and duvet cover a bit of a make-over, and things like the toy basket and bedside lamp I moved from other parts of the house. As much as possible I tried to use something we already had. I have included links at the bottom if anyone wants to know things like paint colours. Thanks so much for all your encouragement and interest in this project. I have promised Bella that we'll do her room over the Easter holidays and something tells me it won't be as easy as Angus's room, partly because it's so small, but mainly because Bella has very clear ideas on what she'd like and very strong opinions, and we don't always see eye to eye...

Thanks also for the advice and sympathy regarding the dog hair situation. It's really cold today so Molly might regret shedding all that fur quite so soon. Enjoy your weekends everyone. 


Useful links:

The walls were painted in plain white emulsion and the bed in slate grey eggshell paint. 
Felt balls and felt for the wall hanging were all bought from Cloud Craft.
Bear print - Seventy Tree
Cabin in the forest print - Little Tea Wagon at Etsy
Phases of the moon print - Etsy 
The rubber tree stamp is from Etsy.
Picture frames and drawer knobs were from Wilko.