Thursday, 24 May 2012

My silent scream

Today, I helped my mum set up her Kindle.  Over the phone.

It took me about an hour and a quarter (with a short break after an hour).

This just about sums up how I'm feeling:

Friday, 18 May 2012

Walking in the Woods

I accompanied a small person on a school trip recently, to the woods.  I am not much of an outdoor person at the best of times, and this was right slap bang in the middle of the rainy spell we've been having since, erm, March.  The wet and damp coupled with the cold, and the tree canopies holding onto the wet, damp and cold, made for a pretty miserable day.

But you can always find a rainbow in the rain.  I didn't find an actual rainbow as it was too dark for light to filter through to where were were shivering.  As part of a Land Art exercise the children did, I picked up a cone and got this great picture:

That was the highlight of my day.  Not pond dipping or searching for mini beasts (funnily enough).

That and the little talk that we were given about land art, demonstrated with a book called Wood by Andy Goldsworthy.  I had never heard of him before, but he creates amazing pieces of art using nature.  I have found a link to a site with some photos of his work:

There are lots of books on the Thames and Hudson website, and a DVD released by Artificial Eye called Rivers and Tides, which I am trying to get hold of at the moment.  I could sit and look at the pictures for hours.

*Update* I have found out that Rivers and Tides is not available at the moment, but the lovely DVD Manager at Artificial Eye tells me that it is due for reissue soon.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Feeling crochety

I don't know how it managed to sneak in. It wasn't in my New Years Resolutions, but recently we went away for a few days and I took some wool and a crochet hook with me, determined to get the hang of that which has previously defeated me.

I think it was about 2 1/2 years ago that a friend tried to teach our Stitch & Bitch group how to crochet a Granny Square. I just couldn't get the hang of any of it. I couldn't hold it straight (maybe that was a left hander holding the hook like a right hander but still trying to crochet like a left hander. Do you follow?). I couldn't work out the Double or the Treble and goodness know where my Granny Corners got to. I had relegated the whole business to "you can't be good at everything" and left it at that. If only I was good at just a few less things than everything...

But maybe I deserve to give myself a second chance, and the attempts I have made recently, although to the trained eye might seem shockingly poor, are a definite improvement on the previous attempts. Practice makes perfect after all.
From left to right shows how I have improved with practice.  Don't linger over the one on the left, although it is much better than the 20 or so that came before and I unravelled repeatedly.  I am officially proud of the one on the right. Yey!

Armed with a couple of books, which I would highly recommend, I have started my quest again. These are the Handbook of Crochet Stitches by Search Press, ISBN 978-1-84448-511-6. This has been great as a guide to the stitches, and I always refer back to it when something jumps out on me to confuse (AN EXTENDED DOUBLE CROCHET???!).

The other book I have been using is 150 Blocks to Knit & Crochet. Also by Search Press. ISBN 978-1-84448-618-2. This book has great patterns for a beginner / numpty like myself and I have had a go at a few blocks here.  This book concentrates on other shapes apart from the Granny Square (although I am learning to love the GS), and has a good range of shapes  which require varying skills, so I am loving it. 

There are also projects to show you how you can combine the blocks for projects. I am practising some simple ones for now:

On the left is a coaster that I got off a blog which came via Mollie Makes, and the one on the left may also have come from the internet from googling whilst on holiday.  It looks a bit wobbly as the edges were rippled.  I won't be putting my drinks on that one.
Both these were from the 150 Blocks to Knit and Crochet book.  On the left ((still work in progress) is the Open Trefoil and on the right is the Flower Power Posy.

The piece de resistance has to be my Apply Cosy as seen on Mollie Makes (might have been issue 1).  The first attempt was made with a hook that was accidentally too large, and so it ended up being more suitable as a Melon Cosy.  Hmmm.  I unravelled that.  Finding a better sized needle, I had another attempt.  Here is the result:
The apples in our house are very small.  What can I do about it?

This is more like it.  An onion cosy.  Just for demonstration purposes.

My ultimate aim is to crochet myself something wearable (and not just make a doiley and pin it on my person), but I think I may need to do a lot more practice before I get anywhere near that. My aim is for a great top I saw in this book:
An Interweave published book, which is available through the Search Press website, and which has beautiful tops in them. It was written by Erika and Monica Simmons.

Or befriend an unsuspecting crochet guru whom I will charm by my ineptness to do it for me...
Must dash.  Need to buy some bigger apples.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Let loose in London

I had the good fortune to take a trip to London last week. My aim was to visit Ray Stitch in Islington, and also to pop to Loop to see if there was anything to cater for my burgeoning crochet habit.

I found my way to Ray Stitch first (though I managed to walk straight past it and it was only good fortune that caused me to look up at the moment where it was still in my eyeline) and what a delight it was.

As you can see, I braved through the rain to get there, and arrived, sodden, resembling a drowned rat.  Unfortunately not looking so luminous as I had left my Amy Butler mac at home for fear that it wouldn't be waterproof enough.

The staff were really friendly and helpful and answered the questions I had about the products. And what a bag of goodies I managed to pick up. A bundle of fat quarters, some ribbons, more fabric and some kiddie paper craft sets. I spent a small fortune but was thrilled with my booty.
Some of life's essentials all bound up in lovely ribbon. 

A bundle of fat quarters that begs to be taken out, laid out flat, admired, and then putting back into a neat little bundle whilst deliberating what you are going to do with it...

Just updating the fabrics here, as I have found all the correct names and colours for them.  They are all by Lotta Jansdotter and they are (top to bottom): Ranka Sarsaparilla, Ruta Sarasparilla, Lena Rugged Suede, Florine Sarsaparilla, Choma Bermuda.  I do love them.

The paper craft sets are by mibo and I bought The Carrot Crew which is a set of 3 rabbits (no 4) and the Jet Set Pets No 7, which is 4 animals on their travels!  So cute, and I bought them as presents, but am not sure whether I can part with them yet.  Sooooo cute!  But then if I do keep them, there's a good chance they will be joining the little pile of goodies I've never got around to making, including a Skiing Sheep that you can turn the handle on and get him to ski!  I love that.

I did manage to go to Loop but was a little intimidated by all the lovely yarn on sale (not ready to be touched by my clumsy fingers), and so left there empty handed.

There were several gorgeous shops on Camden Passage that I browsed in and bought a few bits and pieces, but after that was wearied by walking and the rain, so headed home, lighter of pocket, heavier of foot, but with a very happy demeanour. I love shopping for pretty things.