Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Something Silly

Today's post is nothing much, as I still have rather a lot to do this evening! (Not to mention all of the comments I still want to leave for other people, and the lovely comment on my last post that I still need to reply to!)

I will leave in the morning to head off to Newbury, for yet another appointment with the lovely and talented Jessi James. From there, it is not a long drive to the self-catering cottages my family are staying at for our Wedding Of The Year: my brother's wedding to his lovely long-term girlfriend this Saturday!!!

My mum is staying there from this evening, but I have lots to do to get ready: I have to sort out things to hand over to my husband when he gets there, as he heads off to Indonesia with work very soon and won't be 'home' beforehand. I have my own stuff to find and pack - clothes, accessories, hair stuff, make-up etc. I have blankets to bring and wrap - the Mumbles for the happy couple, and Glastonbury for photos (I hope!!) and to give to my Aunt. There are all the little bits and pieces to ensure I have ready so I can leave early... I've said it before, and I'll say it again.... I HATE PACKING!!!!

Today, when I headed out to buy a storage box so I could empty out the big suitcase my husband needs, and hair accessories so I could attempt an actual hair-do for the wedding, rather than the boring mess it usually is, I decided to pop into the M&S to get some sweets for the journey tomorrow.

I have an enormous soft spot for M&S's Percy Pigs... I know it's childish, but I really loooooove them!!! My preference is for the veggie pigs, which are gelatin-free, as I prefer the texture of these - still chewy, but a bit softer  :)

Imagine my delight when I spotted that not only were the Percy Pig range on special offer, but that there is a new addition to the Percy family; Globetrotting Percy, out and about with Timmy Tiger and Poppy Panda!!

These sweeties may have been bought for the drive tomorrow, but they didn't make it that long I'm afraid... New Globetrotting Percy and his pals sadly came a cropper a day early, and I can report that strawberry pigs, mango tigers and blackcurrant pandas are delicious indeed!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sulking? Ok, Maybe I Am...

This post is a bit miserable, please don't read it unless you don't mind someone offloading their miserableness! Just skip to the vaguely amusing photos at the end if you don't fancy reading it. Normal service will resume shortly, promise :)

Today has been another awful day weather-wise, so I still haven’t been able to photograph Glastonbury! I’m a bit gutted, as I would really like to share it with you! The trouble with indoors here is that there really isn’t a suitable spot for staging the photos, and also as this place is a barn conversion, there are limited windows for getting good light. So photos will have to wait :(

I’m also extremely upset about another development. I have mentioned once or twice that we have a Big Trip coming up. I haven’t described it, as I was going to wait until nearer the time, but this trip was a really BIG deal, once in a lifetime kind of trip. I had a dreadful year last year with all kinds of devastating setbacks in various areas of my life. I was a real wreck – and it was during this period that I first starting blogging, to help me to keep a grip on things and to focus on the good things a bit. 

This Big Trip was the payoff for everything I’d been through. The thing I would think about when I couldn’t cope anymore, “all this is so terrible, but at least I have my Big Trip to look forward to. After the Big Trip I will feel so much better, and these other awful things will pale into insignificance compared to this experience.”  

And today I had to cancel the Big Trip. 

We realised that there just wasn’t time to fit in all of the prep for the Trip, all of the prep for moving to Australia, and seeing the people who are important to us. Something simply had to give. I know we picked the right thing to ditch, but I feel as though along with the disappointment for this Trip, all of those other feelings of deep unhappiness that the Trip was keeping at bay have come rushing back to overwhelm me.

I can’t tell you how devastated I feel. I know that a Big Trip is pretty self-indulgent, and I honestly feel like an awful human being for being so miserable about this when there are people out there who don’t have enough to eat, or who cannot go to school without being in danger, or who have to cope with much worse health problems than me. But I can’t change how important this was to me, and how devastating it feels to be once again missing out on some hard earned experience that means the world to me, and that I can never make up for.

I’m not trying to be a misery-guts by telling you all this, it’s just that partly I feel the need to get it off my chest, and partly I am aware that my miserable mood is permeating everything else I do right now, so I am finding myself totally unable to do an appropriate write-up of anything else…

So instead of writing anything much, here are some random pictures I have taken over the past months that make me chuckle, even if only slightly ;)

Who knew the Metro had the secret of eternal life?

Genuine screenshot from my personal Facebook newsfeed...

The last photo is from near where I used to live, and it always put the Wombles song in my head... :)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bank Holiday Inking

I’m back from a lovely, but rather soggy, bank holiday weekend :) 

I will write more about the rest of the weekend later, once I’ve gotten round to uploading the photos, but I do have some bits I can share now.

I am halfway through a new book, thanks to a recommendation from Niki Murray on my previous post about books, and I’m really enjoying it. Hopefully I can do another write-up about these books once I’ve read some more – I’m not great at writing about books, but I’m hoping that practice will make improvements!

Currently reading

Also, the Glastonbury is finished!!! Yay!! I’m very happy with it, but I have had no opportunity for photos, so the proper post will have to wait – boo!! :(

Instead though, I can reveal my new ink! I am really really happy with it. It was once again done by the lovely Jessi at Black Rabbit Tattoo Collective in Newbury, Berkshire. Jessi’s artwork is fantastic, and she has a great technique with tattooing. My previous piece from her healed so well and so quickly, and while the watercolour technique does mean that it’s not tattooed so heavily and therefore the skin has less damage to it than a heavily shaded or coloured piece, I also think that her personal tattooing technique must be really good.    

On this occasion, my best friend and I got matching tattoos of an origami swan line drawing, with watercolour splashes on it. Jessi’s ability to create a watercolour effect with tattoos just blows me away! She is so talented :)

We chose the swan as, in my friend’s words, “Swans mate for life, and we’re mates for life!”  [I know that when swans mate it has a different meaning, but we had been searching for an idea, and by a long process of planning we decided that swans were the right image :)  ] We chose the origami as we both liked the style of the line drawing, and we both liked the watercolour effect, and so an idea was born! 

So here is the stencil on me, the red lines are where she freehand drew on guide lines for the watercolour elements:

Here is the work in progress on me….

And on my friend….

And here is the finished result!

With an extra close-up of mine, as it is a bit obscured by my top in the previous pic:

These pictures were taken straightaway, so they are still a bit red and swollen, but they will settle down beautifully! I will see my friend again in a couple of weeks, so I’m hoping we’ll remember to get another photo of them as they are more healed. We are both so happy with the results! So happy in fact that I already have my next appointment booked in – I have 2 very small black tattoos, and I’m going to have some splashes of colour added to them to brighten them up and make them more unique. I have to go to Newbury next week anyway, so it would be a shame not to make the most of the opportunity ;)

An old pic, but the subject of my next appointment...

Friday, 23 May 2014

Something New

I haven’t done any crochet today!! First day that’s happened in weeks!!

Today I went out with my mother-in-law for most of the day, which was bad as it meant I missed my gym session, but it was also good as it meant I got a few things done at the bank that were becoming quite urgent, followed by a quick look at some lovely fabric in the market, and a trip to Hobbycraft.

We were in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, for our little jaunt. Not necessarily where I would normally have thought of to go for shops, but it was the first place I discovered that had the right combination of shops and banks that we needed between us.

Wondering through the town to find the bank, we discovered the large market area in the centre. I think I will be going back there! The market contained a huuuuge stall with a gorgeous selection of fabrics, some beautiful upholstery tweeds, and lots of gorgeous 100% cotton fabrics by Clarke & Clarke. I bought a metre of their lovely ‘Rosebud’ fabric in the sage colour, but I think I will be going back for more another time! I do have a plan for this fabric, so hopefully that will work out nicely. But more about that another time :)

We had lunch in a lovely independent tea room, Number 10 The Tea Room, which is family run and serves a selection of sandwiches, paninis, jacket potatoes, salads, and – most importantly – cakes! Along with nice coffee, tea, and herbal teas. If you find yourself in Chesterfield and in want of a light lunch or a cuppa and cake, then I recommend it! 

After lunch we pressed on to Hobbycraft. I don’t often go to Hobbycraft, but the last time I went I had seen that they had sewing machines at ok prices, and I really wanted a sewing machine! They also had the level of sewing machine I was after – not totally basic, that I will outgrow as soon as I learn to sew, but not really high spec and therefore expensive either.

As we were looking at the sewing machines and weighing up which to buy – the Brother that I had originally wanted, or the slightly lower spec but £50 cheaper Singer – a lovely lady came up to us to offer some advice: if you register with Hobbycraft’s club, they send you an email with a code for a 15% discount – not bad when you’re spending around £100!!!

Luckily I have a smartphone, so I was able to sign up for this there and then. I confirmed my registration, that was emailed to me, and then received another email with my discount code. If you’re looking for something big from Hobbycraft then I totally recommend doing this – just be aware that the voucher code is only valid until 2 weeks after you receive it, so if you’re not heading there quite soon then don’t sign up just yet :)

To sign up, go to the website and scroll down to the bottom of the screen. There’s a little box to the right-hand side where you can enter your email address to register.

The sewing machine I went for in the end was the Singer, their Simple 3210 for £99 (minus the 15% discount!). They also have a more expensive Simple 3223 at £159, which has more decorative stitches available. The 3210 isn’t showing up on their website for some reason, but they seemed to have plenty in store.

I won’t be able to start sewing just yet though, as tomorrow I head off south again. I’m going to be meeting up with my best friend, who is joining me from our home town in Wales, to see the hugely talented Jessi James again. We will be getting our matching friendship tattoos tomorrow. My friend is the mum of the boys who I got my first Jessi tattoo for, which I blogged about here. This next tattoo is going to be based upon an origami swan design, hopefully something like one of these (both images found on Pinterest, but I can't find the links again as I had saved them on my computer):

We are then making a weekend of it by camping nearby. Hubby is going to the rugby with his dad tomorrow and then they are staying the night in Swindon – the rugby is in Cardiff, but they are driving to Swindon to catch the train from there, then stopping overnight. The place I will be camping with my friend is very near to Swindon, so hubby will be joining us on Sunday so we can spend the rest of the weekend together – finally some time together!!

I very much doubt that I will get the chance for any blogging during the weekend, but I will be back on Monday, hopefully with a finished Glastonbury Blanket to share! Exciting stuff :)

I hope you all have wonderful lovely weekends to look forward to too :)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Glastonbury - The Edge of The Edge

Well, I’m pretty excited to be sharing this after a few days of work, but I think that my edging plan for the Glastonbury Blanket is working out, and that it won’t be long before I have a finished blankie to share and then rehome!

Last time I showed you Glasto the edge was looking like this, with a few turquoise rounds to start things off:

I had been thinking about a big colourful edging, but I really wanted to do something lacy and fancy, and I thought I might just have a little idea for how to combine the two, and here it is…

I chose edging 93 from Edie Eckman’s ‘Around the Corner Crochet Borders’, as it had the lacy sort of feel I was after, while not requiring an excessive amount of rounds to create it (I’m aiming to have it all finished for the end of the month, when I will be seeing my Aunt anyway. She won’t be expecting it so soon, so I reckon it will be a great surprise!):

For the extra colour, I was inspired by the blanket patches themselves, specifically the way you first add a chain round to the circle motif, which you then crochet onto in order to square it off (and no doubt I was inspired subconsciously by various things on Pinterest – I’ve noticed loads of similar ideas since I thought of this!) So, I next added a round of chain stitches in a contrasting colour to the previous Granny round:

Excuse the crappy colours on this photo - it was taken late at night under dodgy artificial light, and I can't correct it any better than this :(

Then I did Granny clusters onto the chain round – they look a bit different being done onto the chain rather than into a space, but that’s ok – I think it adds to the idea that we are now off the blanket and onto the edge:

Same goes for this photo...

I started these first couple of rounds at the same time, doing a bit of chaining then a bit of Grannying all the way round, so that I could see straightaway if it wasn’t working - rather than after doing a few full rounds! While I was doing this, I extended the idea of doing a check before fully committing, and I built up one small tester section all the way to the lacy bit:

For some reason the deep purple colour doesn't show up very well - it's much nicer than the pic suggests!

My gut feeling about this tester section was that the depth of the chain-Granny section was too similar to the lacy border section, and dwarfed it a little. I thought I either needed to make a much wider section of chains and Granny clusters so that it felt like a different part of the blanket onto which a nice lacy border was added, or I needed to make it a tiny bit narrower so that it didn’t compete so much with the lacy bit (have I explained that ok? I know what I mean but I don’t know if I’ve expressed it very well!) The blanket is now pretty big and time is pretty short, so making it narrower won, and I decided to leave off the final chain-Granny combo. I had originally imagined making the colour bit much wider, so the border isn’t as colourful as I’d pictured, but I still think this adds a bit of interest. Froggy certainly thought so, and he hopped by to watch me work :)  

I heard a little thud at the patio door, and look who was there!

The next day, as I added the final, Bright Pink, chain round, I thought that this almost worked as a border itself! 

I had worked out that an even number of Granny clusters was required as the base for the edging pattern, and my turquoise clusters were an odd number. 

I therefore added a normal Granny round in the Emperor (the deep purple colour I'm using for the edging) to increase the cluster count by 1 to make an odd number (adding a chain-Granny combo increases the cluster count by 2). The brilliant thing about making the blanket square, is that I only needed to do any calculations for 1 side – yay!! The need for this extra round was a bit of a blessing, as when I had been making my tester section, I hadn’t been so keen on the lacy bit going straight onto the Turquoise. When I added a Granny round in the Emperor upon which to start the lacy bit, I thought it looked much better - so it worked out perfectly!

With the Emperor Granny round on top of the chain-Granny combos, I again felt that this could be a good simple edging just as it was:

But I wanted the lacy bit!! So I began with round 1 (of course…) and it created a nice open shell edging, which seemed like another good, simple edging technique I could use in future:

I’m enjoying the edging, it’s a straightforward pattern that is easy to hook, and I think will look really effective. And while the maths in the book seemed a little daunting, when I just went ahead and applied the pattern to the blanket for my test section it was actually really simple to ignore the stitch count altogether! A full repeat just requires 3 spaces across 2 Granny clusters (before, middle, after), and each corner requires a single Granny cluster either side of the corner chain (2 clusters in total). And therefore any even number of Granny clusters – so easy counting!

So, here it is as of yesterday (it's too gloomy and soggy out for a decent picture today), with just 3 more rounds left to go to build up the lacy edging pattern. I’m so excited to see this pattern come together, and I think the colour/lacy compromise is working (even if I haven’t made it quite so wide and colourful as I’d imagined). I’d love to hear if you think it works too – I love a second opinion! 

I can’t wait to share this with you again, but as a finished blanket :)