Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions around children and cooking. I have written them all down and will be returning to them. This week, Bella has been much more involved in the preparation of meals (lots of chopping vegetables) and I think something really simple like pasta or baked potatoes will be a good starting point for her. Lots of you mentioned spaghetti bolognese as a good starting recipe, but John prides himself on the ragu sauce he makes (it simmers in the oven for hours - it is incredible) and I think we'll have some difficulty wrestling that one from his grasp.
Anyway, crochet. It's been all go here lately with yarn and hook, and I've been making some very practical household items for bathroom and kitchen. They've proved to be the perfect in-between project after the jumper and blanket, and now I am ready for something a bit more challenging.
I wanted to learn how to crochet waffle stitch, and a few simple square facecloths seemed like a good way to start. My skin care regime - if it could be called that - consists of removing eye make-up then washing my face with soap and facecloth, so I wanted the cloth to be soft but exfoliating too. I found a really great video tutorial for waffle stitch here and bought my yarn. I wanted 100% cotton, unmercerised (so non-shiny) in neutral colours, and in Hobbycraft I found some 25g balls of cotton called Ricorumi - small balls of coloured cotton and DK yarn aimed at amigurumi crochet, but ideal if you need a little bit of one colour but don't want to buy a big ball. (I wish I'd known about these when I was making my crocheted fruit and vegetables a few years ago, it would have saved lots of leftover yarn when I only needed a tiny bit of, say, green for a stalk or something.)
I bought two 25g balls each of white, cream, light grey and silver grey. Using a 3.5mm hook, one and a half balls made a facecloth and with the rest I made washable make-up remover pads, or scrubbies, to replace the ones I buy to remove my eye make-up. There are lots of very similar patterns online but I liked this one.
I was starting to find all these cloths quite relaxing to make, so whipped up a load of new dishcloths using some cotton yarn in aran/worsted weight and a 5mm hook.
Just rows of double crochet for these, nothing fancy.
Now for the fun stuff: all the new projects I have to look forward to this spring! My mother-in-law kindly gave me some Wool Warehouse vouchers for my birthday, and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours last weekend choosing, downloading and printing out patterns and spending my vouchers on yarn, without any guilt about the cost.
I chose this basket by Lakeside Loops perfect for holding yarn or a plant. Like blankets and cushions, there is always room for another basket in this house, and another houseplant to put in it.
Next, I felt like making another lightweight shawl. I wear my shawl so much, and for a long time have wanted to make the Ombre Shawl by Sarah Shrimpton, especially as she recommends a ball of Scheepjes Whirl for the yarn.
For a long time I've hoped to try crocheting with one of these colourful yarn cakes and eventually chose the colourway Raspberry Rocky Road.
Finally, something else I planned to make this year was some more crochet socks. I have a couple of pairs of crocheted bed socks that I wear all the time, but I wanted to try making some finer everyday socks in a smaller stitch, and went for this pattern by Vicki Brown.
I treated myself to some beautiful variegated sock yarn - Arco Iris sock yarn by Malabrigo - and now have the fun task of winding this into a ball. Buying yarn this way always feels like a bit of a novelty to me.
So now I have three projects, all nicely organised in those bags Wool Warehouse send their yarn in, ready to go. Trouble is I just don't know which one to start first.