Tuesday, 31 May 2016

T on Tuesday, by a bad blogger!

First I want to apologise for not returning your visits and comments last time I joined in, which was two weeks ago, and I missed a week to top it off. How embarrassing, but it has been a tough couple of weeks.
The week I posted I meant to go round at the weekend at least, then Hubby was ill and in hospital on the Thursday where they decided his anaemia was worse and he needed blood transfusions, and would be staying the night - then they decided to do the transfusions all that afternoon and evening and send him home again. So he was back home that evening but feeling really fragile. He seemed better for a couple of days then started being sick again mornings, and I was trying to keep his spirits up.
Then last week Hubby had appointments at the hospital 4 out of 5 days, and I had an appointment about my foot (which is now fine) on the other day. I had to go with him to the hospital each time, in case he needed me to drop him near to the department and park the car. The day he had his transfusions I couldn't park in the drop off car park, had to drop him as near as possible and then it took me 45 minutes to park. He nearly collapsed just walking in, and they took him straight to a ward - he couldn't walk there and when I finally got in he was being taken in a wheelchair which the nurse left with me at the entrance to the ward. I couldn't push the thing, they are made of cast iron tubing and so heavy! 
We started last week with an oncology appointment, then he needed his bloods taken, then there was a treatment day. On Friday he should have been going in for a Radiotherapy appointment but on the Thursday during treatment they said he needed more blood transfusions and booked him in for those, then rang us late afternoon to say "something had gone wrong" and his cross matching blood couldn't be tested, so we had to go in as early as we could for the blood to be taken again - then it took two hours for the blood to be delivered for him! Oh what a long day, I was so tired after all that sitting about and wandering the hospital corridors for two days in row, and we were there for seven and a half hours Friday!

Anyway it is T on Tuesday time, and you can join in at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's blog. As you can see from the first photo my crochet "nest" has been drastically tidied because we have our son, daughter in law and two little grandchildren staying. It's only been moved to the craft room, which I won't be able to get into soon (and where I am posting from now so maybe I won't be able to get out).

See my Dance in the Sea storage bag is filling up nicely, we are on week 6 so 24 squares have been completed and 10 weeks to go. This is going to be a really nice sized blanket.

Because I finished the week 6 squares in the hospital I thought I should do more on the Persian Tiles blanket, I would like to finish it - or decide if I will make it bigger but only if I can still get the same dye lot in the navy which will show if it is different. In the background a pirate ship, this is my grandson's present (well the main one) for his 4th birthday which was on the 17th. Our little granddaughter Lily is 6 months old now and beginning to move, which is one reason I tidied the "nest". On the footstool the tiles are all now at the same stage, I was finishing the same two rows on the last one. Now I can move on to the next row which is a smaller hook and fills in the valleys to make the octagon, then there are just two rows left to finish. So I hope to be able to block and to start assembling the blankets soon.

I have been using two colours, so both yarn bowls are in use. Next to the new yarn bowl I blogged about last time (which is now officially part of my birthday present in advance for July) is a set of Tulip Etimo crochet hooks, which hubby has bought me in advance for my birthday.

I started to use my new hooks, I know - should wait until July, but I wanted to try them. The handle feels lovely and warm in my hand. I found that the size 5mm created a much bigger square than the Knit Pro hook, here they are side by side and you might be able to tell that the shaft of the pink Tulip hook is thicker than the Knit Pro. I tried both of them in a hook gauge took and they both fit the 5mm slot but the Tulip shaft is tight in the slot and the Knit Pro is not. As I didn't want to have to redo the gauge swatch and work out which hook I needed I carried on with the Knit Pro hooks for now but I have found since having them I often need to go up to a larger size than stated and this difference in the two hooks might explain why!
 Can you see how the non slip coating has worn away on the Knit Pro? It has on several of them, and I looked at the Knit Pro web site where it states they have a lifetime guarantee - unless you bought them from Amazon or Ebay, so I can't do a thing about it!
 Side view, you can see the different profiles.
Back view, notice that the Tulip hooks seem to be slightly longer, the handles and the shafts are a little longer.

Close up of the hook. I don't know how much difference I will find when I work with the new hooks properly but I will tell you all as soon as I know.

 Here are my strawberries, the only thing I am growing in the greenhouse this year because hubby cannot help me with carrying compost, or heavy watering cans so it is better that I don't grow any tomatoes or courgettes. The slugs and snails are more prolific this year too, so would probably eat the lot!

Look at my strawberries! They are ripening at the rate of three per day right now! The one above is the first one I picked, it was delicious.

Bit blurry but this is a huge strawberry, which my little grandson is going to have for breakfast!

 This is the Dance in the Sea week five square, it was supposed to be pale green but seagull prints looked better in the sand to me, this is the first time I have changed the colour from the pattern.

 Week 6 square is a C2C (corner to corner) square, and I did a lot of those making the premature baby blankets! They were supposed to be sand coloured and I swapped last week's colour so they are green.
 I've joined a mystery CAL, see the last post if you don't know what a CAL is! All I know is I needed Aran yarn in cotton or acrylic and the quantities, so here is a bag of lovely squishyness waiting for June 7th to find out what we are doing first! The mystery CAL is by Melody's Makings and is called Veronica meets Spring, and cost a few dollars to join. There will be some free patterns given out in addition to the mystery CAL instructions. My yarn is Rico, due to a special offer which made it very affordable - am I crazy taking on another project when I have so many not started?

I hope that I will be able to get round everyone's blogs this week, barring any excitement and if I get time. I have spent three days getting the house ready for our visitors and I am totally exhausted now and aching all over, hoping for a good nights sleep so I better go hit that sack right now as it is already gone 1am. So I am a candidate for Alzheimers due to lack of sleep, but crochet will keep my brain active so maybe they net off!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

T for Tuesday and for Two CALs

It's time for T on Tuesday, and as long as you show a beverage you can join in with the lovely people over at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's place. 
I had some really lovely comments last week, and was so late going round commenting myself, I had to keep my poorly foot elevated to try and get the infection to go away.

It was tricky to take this photo while holding a home made ice lolly, all I did was mix vanilla yogurt with raspberries!
Week four squares are all about waves, square complete and blocked.

Before the border was added, and before blocking the square was a bit lopsided.
All of week three squares blocked and ready to go in the bag - I just love this colour.

Last week Lisca asked me about the CAL and if it was a course. Well it sort of is I suppose, but let me try and explain.
CAL stands for Crochet Along, and it is an event where a person, magazine or company tells you of a project you are going to make, and the materials you need and the patterns are released a small part at a time at set intervals.
When a yarn company together with a crochet designer launch a CAL it usually means there is a kit or kits you can purchase, as I did for the Last Dance on the Beach CAL, where I purchased the Scheepjes Lux Dance in the Sea kit. The kits for this CAL are in three colour combinations, and in two qualities, Lux has the Merino Soft yarn which is 50% pure Merino wool, and the basic kit is in Colour Crafter which is acrylic.
I have taken part in mystery CALs before, I started to make a toy but didn't finish it, I will one day.

I have never taken part in a CAL like Last Dance on the Beach before, and I am enjoying it. A new pattern for the next square is released each week for a total of sixteen weeks, and you make four of each square.
As well as instructions a video is released for each square too, so beginners should be able to take part as well as more experienced people. All of it is available on the Scheepjes website, and there is a Facebook group you can join where everyone helps each other and shows their photos of finished squares.
At the end we put our squares together to make a beautiful blanket (hopefully if the squares are all the same size), and crochet a border.

The CAL was the idea of Marinke (Wink) Slump, a lovely girl who lost her battle with depression last year and the design of her blanket has been completed by her friends and fellow designers in her memory. There is a small donation to MIND for each kit sold too. On the Scheepjes site there are patterns for a couple of Wink's past CALs too.

This is Marinke's last book, published posthumously. I felt I should get it, but did I get carried away by people in the Facebook group? It is easy to do, someone comes along and join

Some people are crocheting all three colourways, some are only making one. Some are making a bigger blanket with two kits. Some are using other Scheepjes yarn, and some are using non Scheepjes yarn but are not allowed to mention the make in the group lol.

There are CALs like the Yarnutopia 365 granny squares project, where one new square is released every day and you can use your stash to make it, and pick and choose which you like, there is a video tutorial for each one not a written pattern. There are plenty of other CALs out there on the internet.

While other people are taking part in more than one CAL........
......oh dear the postie seems to have brought me more yarn from Wool Warehouse, doesn't it look pretty in the lovely net bag! I kept looking at the Frida's Flowers kit and CAL, and I gave in but I didn't buy the kit. I looked for a cheaper cotton and found Drops Muscat which is in 50g balls so is perfect to substitute for the Stylecraft Classique and saved myself £20. I tried doing it in King Cole Giza because I have a pile of that and wouldn't need all the colours (and a few other makes) - but it always worked out more expensive that the kit because I wouldn't need the whole of the 100g ball in many cases.
The Frida's Flowers CAL has a new part released every fortnight, and is not for beginners but for people who want to improve their skills. Part 4 is about to be released, so I have some catching up to do.
The Persian Tiles blanket is not a CAL, but is a spin off of the Jane Crow CAL last year which I think was called Moroccan Tiles. Once the CAL is over the pattern is withdrawn. The pattern for sale is a simplified design compared to the CAL version. I was a bit slow and didn't save the patterns or print them for the original CAL.

A while ago I posted about my Furls yarn bowl which worked out quite expensive because I got stung for import duties and the dreaded Post Office fee which is several times the tax often.
I wasn't really looking at yarn bowls, but I spotted some on Ebay,  one of two gorgeous bowls available at the time and hand carved from Yew. Isn't it beautiful, and so big! I will take a photo next to the Furls one so you can see the difference. I was really disappointed with the size when it arrived, but not this one.
This is also a work of art, so totally lovely and the price was good too (well it wasn't cheap, my treat to me). The Ebay seller isWright Turn - and the artisan who carved this masterpiece is Jon Wright who is on Facebook. The bowl was so well packed it was quite a fight to get it out and see how beautiful it is. I love all the wood grain, and how it is different on every part.

View from above, empty, isn't that pretty!
The cotton yarn is 50g, see the Furls bowl is only just big enough for one but I could have got more than the two in the Wright Turn one - or a much bigger ball of yarn! I must take a photo of the bottom of it too, that is carved with the names. 

I'm also looking at potential new hooks, my hooks are quite new and are Knit Pro Waves which were highly recommended, but I am wondering if a more shaped handle would benefit me as my poor old hands get stiff and sore after crocheting for a few hours. The set I really like the look of and the one that gets good reviews is the Tulip Etimo which comes in pink in a pink case with pink scissors. Other people recommend Clover Amour, and Addis, and some swear by Furls hand carved hooks. The Furls look gorgeous but postage the same as the cost so doubles the price, then pay taxes and fees as I have only seen them direct from Furls in the US.
Someone posted about some other hooks that are similar to Furls and a whole lot cheaper and now I have found lots of them by different designers at various prices. Some work out a lot cheaper than Furls too. I even found one in the UK who carves the handles and fits them to metal hooks.
Lots of designers seem to get hooks and equipment sent them to try and recommend, I could do that too - if anyone would like to send me stuff to review!

Here's 14 year old Alfie basking in the sun.

Monday, 9 May 2016

It's Tuesday so it must be time for T on Tuesday.

On Tuesdays a bunch of folks get together to share their beverages and views of the world and this all happens at Elizabeth and Bleubeard's blog. I missed last week, it was Wednesday by the time I would have posted which is a day too late! I know it is Monday, so do you but I see the T post is there so here goes!
See my peppermint tea in place as usual and viewed from my crochet chair! I knocked it over last week when full, and that is a pint of hot tea that went over my WIPs, and the carpet (who cares about the carpet)!

I bought a blocking board for the Pesian Tiles blanket, but have only used it on Dance in the Sea, here it is blocking 7 squares at once. I had to post to find out which holes in the board to use, couldn't work out how to block a 19cm square! Someone said these are no good for the Persian Tiles, so I might have to get some foam mats and blocking pins. The sides of my squares seem to bend in (liek they are too stretched) but straighten out when it relaxes. I wonder if I need some blocking wires to stop the bending.

This is the week 2 square of Dance in the Sea CAL. I hadn't done star stitch before and really enjoyed it, I had to go up two hook sizes to get the square the right size but as this was suggested in the video I did it right away. I love how bulky and soft this square is, it would make a warm blanket on its own.

This is the week 3 square and I adore this colour. The square was quite tricky and I had a bad start, frogged and tried again, frogged and tried again then got it! I took it to the hospital while I sat with hubby as he had his treatment, and I couldn't access the video because the wifi signal is non existent in the oncology suite. He had been going for blood tests and treatment on his own before he had a spell in hospital, but he went for blood tests on his own and came back wiped out and in a terrible state, so I went with him. He said he would have been fine on his own that day, but he forgot that I took over when we got there and sat in a car park for half an hour waiting for a space, so he would have been late and stressed if he was on his own. As it was the blood form had not been filled in correctly and they had to ask for two more tests before he could start his treatment so we were there a few hours.  I am pretty happy with my week 3 square, but......
 ......when I made my second square of week 3 I realised there was just one stitch I had done slightly wrong and now my bobbles are better defined. So I have to decide if I leave the first square or frog it and redo it.
Underneath you can see a few of the Persian Tiles which have moved on and I am doing two rows on each before the next now. The next row involves a hook change - then there is only one row left! I seem to have a lot of yarn left, hope it goes into the border.
 More Persian tiles, I still have to sew in all those ends!

Someone posted about storing their squares in the bags you get with bedding, those clear ones with zips. Great idea but I didn't have any, however I spotted some on the B&M website so made my second ever visit to that store to get some. I really thought they were square in the photo, but I guess they will do.

Looks a bit empty here, but it now has the blocked squares in it, and will soon have more!

 I printed off one of the pattern sheets and cut the title out to use in the spine of my display book.

These are the Scheepjes scissors that came with the deluxe kit, along with the lovely beach bag, some stitch markers and a sachet of Eucalan, which is an intriguing substance that I had never heard of before. It was invented by an Australian woman to address the problems of washing during drought. You soak your hand made knitted or crocheted goods in it and you don't rinse. If you use the washing machine you put it on a rinse only programme and put it in the conditioner bit I think. It is made of lanolin and natural oils and is available in lavender to deter moths, and other scents. Of course if you are allergic to lanolin it isn't a lot of use to you and I hope I'm not. Anyway some folk are soaking their squares in Eucalan before blocking, but as I only have the one tiny sachet I have only used water. I might invest in a bottle.

I ordered a couple of new books, this one is called Crochet Geometry by https://wordery.com/shannon-mullett-bowlsby-author and has some really unusual and lovely patterns in it. I first saw it on Twitter and was intrigued, googled it to find more images and bought it from Wordery. It took a while but it is worth it. I have so many patterns and books, not sure when I will get to it but I hope to make something soon.

I started this post last week, since then hubby has been in hospital but only for one night, has come home with more tablets so he will rattle, but he is home and not too bad thankfully. I took him in Sunday lunchtime, spent 4 hours sitting in A&E (emergency room) before they decided to keep him for a night or two, luckily it was only one night in the end. I got a little crochet done but was fetching and carrying. We are both on antibiotics now, I have a foot infection possibly cellulitis, I wore my Mary Janes Friday and only walked from the car park to the hairdressers but one of them rubbed and made a hole and by this morning it was swollen, hot and throbbing so I guess I should be sitting with it up higher than my head really! I will I promise!