Friday, 13 July 2012

This poor neglected little blog

Paid work is glorious for its bill-paying rewards and as a freelancer I am eternally grateful for all the work that comes my way.

But it really gets in the way of blogging, tweeting and most importantly my adventures in crochet!

It had been so long since I'd picked up a hook, I actually experienced a certain level of performance anxiety as I started my latest project this week; which was particularly worrying as this project, along with another which is equally challenging, need to be finished by the end of this month, or my good witch step-mum position could well be toast!

The good news is, I'm cracking on with project 1, although I'm unravelling all of yesterday's experimental stitch work as it's not doing it for me. But that's a job for the weekend as today is a paid work day and I'm just squeezing this blog post in because my lack of attention here has been bothering me.

I've got some great new additions for my Patterns & Stitches page which I will sort through over the weekend and a couple of articles which I will start working on too. Hopefully, I will get the first birthday project complete, so I can share that too.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

And last place goes to ....

Team 118

Oops, sorry Nix!!

Nicola and friends/colleagues did a grand job yesterday competing for charity in Birmingham's Dragon Boat race. The team dressed up as the lads from 118 for the occasion.

Just in case you can't spot Nicola in the line-up photo, here's an action shot of her in close-up!
woman dressed as 118 118 character with wig and moustache
Barclays team dressed as 118 118 characters for Birmingham dragon boat race

Friday, 15 June 2012

What an unusual request ...

... finally completed, it's the kitchen apron in the style of the old East German flag or, more correctly, the flag of the former Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) / German Democratic Republic (GDR), which was in existence from 1959 to 1990.

The National Emblem of the flag features a hammer and compass surrounded by a ring of rye. I've made it into a pocket for cooking stuff .. not entirely sure what .. utensils or herbs maybe ... anyway, it's a pocket!

crochet flag of the former Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR)or German Democratic Republic (GDR)

I've not written a pattern for it yet, but I will do if anyone's interested. Leave me a comment and I'll get on it.

Check out Mr Whippy's Flake Plate

Mr Whippy Ice-Cream van with F7AKE (FLAKE) number plate


Spotted on Stamford Meadows - never noticed Gino's clever number plate before - bet that's worth a few £££

It certainly beats my disastrous Queen pictures

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Disastrous Queen Pics

Oh dear ...

we went all that way ...

got an excellent position by the barrier ...

only narrowly escaped being pick-pocketed ...

and then completely messed up the photo opportunity ...

I was being super careful ... checking I had pressed record on my iPhone, etc etc ... turns out I have 3 seconds footage of the point just before she arrived and 3 seconds footage of the back of the last car in her motorcade!!! what happened to the bit in the middle??? If you can be bothered, you can watch them here






... for no other reason than to share in my pain ...

To be fair, I did manage not to drop the baby, so there's plenty to be happy about really and it turns out the Stamford Mercury were filming just feet away from me. If you'd like to see what I should have shot, it's here http://bit.ly/NeXOkD

... and I finally noticed Gino's Flake plates ... I must walk around with my eyes closed!

Queen felt very safe with the sheriff in town

baby in sheriff badge t-shirt


the only decent picture of the day - click here for my Queen pics disaster 

Off to see the queen with baby and crochet

Today we are combining a spot of royal watching with knitting (or rather crocheting) in public!

Gutted to say that in my haste to get into town, I totally forgot to dress W in his Union Jack romper suit :(, so we will have to save that for the Olympics.

Stamford roads are cordoned off with barriers for folks to stand behind and wave as the Queen passes through town on her way to Burghley House for a picnic.

The weather has been kind so far and there are already hoards of school kids and pensioners securing their viewing positions! The Welland us being patrolled by river police, there are helicopters overhead, police everywhere and W is sleeping.

To be honest, I'm pleased I forgot ws Union Jack suit. Last night I dreamed there was a picture of me in the Daily Mail showing my knickers, so I'm keen to keep a low profile today.

So maybe I ought to forget about worldwide knitting in public weekand leave my crochet in my bag!

What a photographical disaster ...

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Went shopping for pyjamas, came back with England Football strip

The outcome of a first shopping trip for father and son. They forgot about the pyjamas and went for the full England strip instead!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

I'm off to embarrass my other half

Apparently, it's World Wide Knit in Public (WWKIP) day today. How on earth did that pass me by? As I haven't got time to organise a local event, I think I will instead pick up my crochet and head to the pub at 4pm, where my other half will be watching European Cup football with a load of blokey blokes - hope he doesn't choke on his pint!!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Wavy Baby Blanket - Free Pattern


Wavy Baby Car Seat Blanket Pattern

A free pattern by Fionajayne, Crafting a Lifetime

free baby blanket pattern

Background Story

While I was pregnant, I picked up a crochet hook for the first time since I was 6 years old and made my own baby a brightly coloured double crochet stripy blanket to keep him warm through the winter months ahead. Not only has it kept him warm, but the bright colours have entertained him on long car journeys and whenever he needed a little distraction.

When a friend recently had a baby, I decided to make her little boy a brightly coloured blanket too, but once it was finished, I wasn’t overly happy with it. I hadn’t so much as designed it, as stumbled through it, while I taught myself new crochet stitches and played with different yarns and colours.

Thanks to some great feedback from fellow crocheters and knitters, I made some changes to the draft version and have finally finished it. I promised to have a go at writing the pattern and here it is. I’ve never written a pattern before and so can only hope that what you get when you follow the instructions below works out as you would like.

This is a free pattern. I would welcome, but not expect, a token charitable donation via my dad’s Just Giving page. In 2010, while competing in the London Triathlon and raising money for charity, he got into trouble during the swim, despite being an exceptional swimmer, and died 2 days later. My brother suggested that I do a run if I wanted to raise some money for charity, but I think my running days are over (if they were ever here!) and that one should stick to one’s knitting, so to speak. So, if you are using this pattern, and feel so inclined, then do please make a small, anonymous (if you prefer) donation at http://www.justgiving.com/ian-sloss

I would welcome any feedback on this pattern, especially corrections, and will gladly provide any assistance I can while you are making it. You can reach me via my blog or the forum. If you would like a word copy of this document, please ask and I will gladly email you a copy.



The Pattern

Use a 3.5mm or 4mm hook, depending on how loosely you crochet and a selection of soft, but hard-wearing DK yarns to make this blanket to keep baby warm in his or her car seat. The approximate size is 53 cm by 65 cm. The pattern is written in UK terminology; US makers should read dc as sc and tr as dc.

Chain 111 in your main colour – I used white King Cole Cottonsoft DK

Top detail stitch sampler

Row 1 (Right side):  Dc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across: 110 stitches, turn
Row 2 (Wrong side): Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr); work 1 tr in each st to end: 110 stitches, turn
Row 3: Ch 1; work 1 dc into each st to end: 110 stitches, turn
Row 4: Ch 4 (equals 3 ch for turning chain and 1 as part of the first treble cluster pattern); *make one 3-trcl across the next 3 stitches, ch 2, repeat from * until last 5 stitches, make one 3-trcl, chain 1, 1 tr (that should give you 36 cluster stitches across): 110 stitches, turn
Row 5: Ch 3; work 1 tr into 1-ch sp, *work 1 tr into top of cluster stitch from previous row, work 2 tr into 2-ch sp, repeat from * until last cluster stitch from previous row, work 1 tr into top of last cluster stitch from previous row, work 1 tr into last chain space: 110 stitches, turn
Row 6 & 7: Ch 3;  *skip next st, 1 tr in next 3 st, yo, with hook in front of work, go back and insert hook from front to back into skipped st before the 3-tr group; loosely draw through a lp and bring it up to the height of the 3-tr group; yo and complete tr (Cable stitch ); rep from * to last stitch, 1 tr in last st.: 110 stitches (27 Cable stitches worked over 4 stitches), turn
Row 8: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr); work 1 tr in each st to end: 110 stitches, turn
Row 9: Ch 4 (equals 3 ch for turning chain and 1 as part of the first treble cluster pattern), skip 1 st, then *make one 3-trcl into next st, ch 2, skip 2 st, repeat from * to last 3 st, make one 3-trcl into next stitch, ch 1, 1 tr: 110 stitches (36 cluster stitches), turn
Row 10:  Ch 3 (counts as 1 treble), work 1 tr in each of next 14 st, work 2 tr in next st (to increase 1 st), * work 1 tr in next 27 st, work 2 tr in next st (to increase 1 st), repeat from * twice, work 1 tr in next 14 st: 114 stitches, turn

Wave pattern

Row 11 (using your main colour – white in my case): Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), *work 3 tr in next st, work 1 tr into each of next 3 st, work 3 tr tog twice, work 1 tr into each of next 3 st, work 3 tr into next st, repeat from * to last st, 1 tr: 114 stitches (8 complete waves), turn
Row 12 (using one of your secondary colours): work as Row 11, turn
Rows 13 -53: work as Rows 11 and 12, alternating between your main colour and your secondary colours

Bottom detail

Row 54: Ch 1, 1 dc, *1 dc in next 2 st, 1 htr in next 3 st, 1 tr in next 4 st, 1 htr in next 3st, 1 dc in next 2 st, repeat from * until last st, 1 dc: 114 stitches, turn
Row 55: Ch 3 (equals 3 ch for turning chain), skip 1 st, then *make one 3-trcl into next st, ch 2, skip 2 st, repeat from * to last 3 st, make one 3-trcl into next stitch,  1 ch, 1 tr in last st: 113 stitches (37 cluster stitches), turn

Border

Turn your work as per Row 55 instruction and begin working the border as if it was Row 56 as follows:
  • Ch 1; work 1 dc into 1-ch sp, *work 1 dc into top of cluster stitch from previous row, work 2 dc into 2-ch sp, repeat from * until last cluster stitch from previous row, work 1 dc into top of last cluster stitch from previous row, work 3 dc into last chain space to form the first corner
  • Continue down the length of the blanket by placing 1 dc st at regular intervals (roughly 2 stitches where there is a tr and 1 st where there is a dc – I ended up with 108 st) until you reach the bottom, work 3 dc in the last stitch to form the second corner. (It is slightly fiddly to do, but I worked over the loose thread ends on this round to save me sewing them all in individually. I don’t know if that is the correct way to do it, but it seems to have worked!)
  • Work 1 dc into each of your original chains all the way across until the last st, work 3 dc in the last st to form the third corner
  • Continue up the length of the blanket by placing 1 dc st at regular intervals (roughly 2 stitches where there is a tr and 1 st where there is a dc) until you reach the top, work 3 dc in the last stitch to form the final corner, sl st in the first dc you made for the border, turn
  • Ch 1; work 1 dc into each st all the way round, remembering to place 3 dc into each of the 4 corner stitches to create the corners, sl st in the first dc of that row, turn
  • Ch 2; work 1 extended dc into each st all the way round, remembering to place 3 extended dc into each of the 4 corners, sl st in the first extended dc of that row, turn 
  • Ch 1; work 1 dc into each st all the way round, remembering the corners as before, sl st in the first dc of that row, fasten off


To Finish

Sew in any remaining loose ends
I washed mine and shaped it on a towel as it was drying to get a good final shape


There is also a beginner's blanket pattern here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Still fun, but a little less gaudy

The only problem is, W now has blanket envy ... every time we walk past it, he's arching his neck to have another look! Seems like his simple stripes are just not quite the ticket anymore. I guess that might go a tiny little way to answering the question of whether babies prefer brights or pastels ... at least mine does. Maybe taste is genetically determined somehow?

Thanks to everyone who left comments for me, either here or on the Knitting Paradise forum. I'm certainly happier with my wavy baby car seat blanket now. I do kind of miss the red border, but I think it looks better without it ....

... maybe I'll just try a red border out before I decide ...

crochet baby blanket

In case you were trying to remember how it was before ...



... and if you would like to try it out for yourself, the pattern is here

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Fun or Ghastly?

I made this baby car seat blanket for a friend, but I can't decide whether to send it or start again ...

what do you think? fun or ghastly? or will it not matter once it's covered in baby sick? and anyway, isn't it the thought that counts?

Would you be pleased or horrified to receive it? go on, be honest!

crochet baby blanket


In the end, I reworked it as you can see here and eventually wrote out the pattern, which is available for free here

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

90th Anniversary of RAF Halton Apprentice Scheme at the National Memorial Arboretum

ian sloss


Dad had been a volunteer gardener at the Halton grove garden at the National Memorial Arboretum and had been part of the team that took what was described as a rough piece of wasteland and turned it into the tranquil and thoughtfully designed space that it now is. The stone above has been laid in his memory and the information board which was partly funded by his old employer, LSC, in his memory was unveiled on Saturday 12th May 2012. 

Halton Grove Information Board


This was also the day chosen for a service at the Halton Grove garden to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of "Trenchard's brats", also known as the RAF Halton Apprentice Scheme. As Dad had been due to take over as Chairman of the Halton Apprentice Association shortly before he died, we were honored to be guests at the event.

W made his first formal appearance as a VIP. We managed to get through most of the "Golden Oldies" pipe and drum numbers before he got a bit grizzly and we made a speedy exit to the public area outside the garden before Lord Trenchard started to speak. Try as I might, I couldn't get W to look up at the Hurricane doing a fly-past, but I did manage to get W into the Air Cadets!!

Although we'd had to take him along because we couldn't get a babysitter, I'm pleased we did. He behaved himself wonderfully and brought many smiles to those present. Most importantly, he was a cheerful reminder to us as we sat in the Arboretum Marquee, where we had last been for dad's wake, that life and death are part of one great miraculous cycle. I'm just sad he's missing some of my best bits.

Ian Sloss memorial


For more details on the Halton Grove and how it has come into being, visit http://223halton.hosting.idnet.net/arboretum.htm



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Love in the air

Shortly after the fly past over the Halton Grove memorial garden at the National Arboretum, as Lord Trenchard was speaking about RAF Halton and the apprentices and unveiling the information board in memory of dad, this heart appeared in the sky


heart shaped cloud

Thursday, 10 May 2012

10 things no-one ever thought they would hear me say

1) What a lovely baby
2) Could you just hold him please while I wipe the poo off my face
3) This little piggy went to market, baa baa black sheep, row row row your boat, etc etc etc
4) Come on now mr windypops, where are you hiding?
5) These Huggies are terrible, I'm going back to Pampers
6) Do you think his tongue is too big for his mouth?
7) Has anyone got a spare muslin?
8) Love to see you for lunch - if we meet at 12 we'll have almost 2 hours before his next bottle
9) No thanks (to the wine), I'll have a soda and lime
10) No thanks (to the sex), I'd rather have a sleep

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Any more ragged nailed, hairy badgers out there?

I'm not saying that I've let myself go exactly, but just how do you keep up with your own grooming when you're up to your eyeballs in baby stuff?

I've resorted to cutting my nails rather than filing them and I've had a few highlights put in my hair to hopefully distract people just a little from the grey spreading down from my parting. Apparently, I look a bit like a badger - harsh, but fair!

Finally, body hair - ewwww .... but it stopped growing when I was pregnant, which was marvellous as I couldn't really reach anyway. Now it seems like it's making up for lost time. When I'm in the bath though, W is usually sat in his little bouncy chair next to me and it doesn't seem right to be shaving my legs in front of him, even though he has no idea of what I'm up to. And if he isn't in the bathroom with me, if I have some rare bathroom time alone, I really just want to chill rather than drag a sharp piece of metal across my skin. My other half, bless him, has only threatened to leave me once for body hair mismanagement and to be honest, I'd probably leave me too.

Whatever happened to manicures, pedicures, visits to the hairdressers and some professional waxing?

A baby.

Seriously, I've got to get a grip, or I'll be wearing socks and sandals before I know it ... actually, come to think of it, that sounds really quite comfy ...

What a difference a baby makes - an apology to my mum friends everywhere

At 40 years of age, I had left it quite late to have my first child. I don't want to say that he wasn't planned, because I happen to think that he was always going to be born, I just didn't know when. I've been surrounded by friends and family with babies all my life and what I realise now is that I was really quite scared of them. Babies that is, not my friends and family.

It was easier to leave the cooing and holding and nappy changing to my sister, who seemed to have a natural talent with both babies and small fury animals. I must have come across as aloof and disinterested, but actually I was terrified of not holding them properly, not changing a nappy properly, not feeding them properly, etc etc ad perfectionist infinitum.

I focused on my career. I got irritated with work colleagues on maternity leave or working less hours to accommodate family life. I partied. I bought a nice house. I had long lunches and danced into the early hours. I worked even harder, often because I was covering for colleagues on maternity leave in a small business, and yes, I'm still a bit annoyed about that.

As more of my friends started to have babies, I found new friends with no interest in having children. I still spoke to old friends, but I wasn't the friend I could have been if I hadn't been so scared and, as a consequence, disinterested and unsympathetic.

So far, W has been a very easy baby. He has had no health problems apart from a little cradle cap, he eats well, he has slept through the night from about 11 weeks and he smiles and laughs a lot. We know how lucky we are. And still, our easy baby is really really really hard work.

I wish now that I had been there as a support for friends whether their babies were easy or tricky. To ask the right questions, invite their ranting and listen properly as they just talked about how hard it really is to have children. I'm not giving myself a really hard time about this by the way, although I do wonder whether I might have really let some new mums down. The fact is, that as human beings, we naturally tend to identify more with those that we have a lot in common with. When friends move into different lifestages at different times, it can be tricky to find the common ground that keeps you close. I notice the same thing happening with mum, whose social time is increasingly spent with her single friends from the gym, rather than the friends she had as a couple with dad. I think it's one of those harsh realities that people can often not identify with a situation and truly empathise until it has happened to them.

So, I am sorry for not being there sometimes when I might have been able to help. Here are 20 things (in no particular order) that I have learned in the last 4 months that I would have already known if I had been there to listen:

1) The never-ending feeling of responsibility
2) It really does take forever to get out of the house and yes you really do need all that stuff
3) Babies are expensive, even when you have lots of second hand stuff
4) It is tempting to stick them in front of the TV for 5 minutes just to get some peace
5) Looking after a baby is the hardest job with the longest hours that I've ever done
6) You need some time off for you every week - that doesn't mean you don't love your child or you're a bad mother
7) It is amazing watching them learn new things, feeling them touch your face or hold your hand
8) Ditch the black wardrobe in favour of milk sick coloured items and just deal with the poo
9) You will not always agree with your other half on how to raise your child
10) Sex can be hard to get back into, may not feel the same, is disrupted by a baby monitor with the sound up, and is really important for maintaining intimacy in your relationship
11) Don't stress too much about your baby's routine when he's having a lovely day out with the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/sisters .... just let them get on with it
12) Give them plenty of cuddles now because the time is gone so quickly and it's really hard (apparently) to spoil a baby up to the age of 6 months
13) On the whole, babies up to 3 months cry for a reason
14) Don't stress it if you don't get on with breast feeding
15) You are the centre of their world; they think you're amazing; enjoy it while you can!
16) Always smile at your baby, no matter how you're feeling
17) Get out and about so they can hang out with other babies
18) Accept all offers of assistance
19) Ask for help when you need it
20) Keep talking to your other half, get some time alone, be kind to each other even when you don't feel like it, agree expectations, make love

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Crochet Happy!

Can happiness be found through crafting? Can crafting, in particular knitting and crochet improve well-being? A group of psychologists has been exploring whether crafts such as knitting (including crochet) and cross-stitch can help with pain management and recovery from depression. Much of the evidence so far appears to be anecdotal, but studies are underway that hope to demonstrate the physical and psychological benefits of these crafts.

If you're interested in knowing more about crochet and knitting and how they may be used to manage pain and recover from depression, have a look at Stitchlinks, which is run by Betsan Corkhill. This is the opening text from the Welcome Page, which sums up what they are doing far better than I ever could:

"Stitchlinks is pioneering an exciting approach to healthcare which could have global implications and a massive, positive impact on wellbeing.

We are at the core of groundbreaking research, and a movement which utilises crafts, in particular knitting, to improve wellbeing. Stitchlinks is the central hub of this innovative work where you'll find a direct link to the researchers and accurate, up-to-date information.

Our mission is to use knitting and other activities to improve wellbeing generally, but also to complement medical treatments in the self-management of long-term illness. We are working closely with academics and clinicians, and as a direct result, therapeutic knitting and therapeutic knitting groups are being formally acknowledged by leading clinicians and academics for their benefits in mainstream healthcare."

I'm going to keep posting on this subject when more information is available, simply because I instinctively believe there is a connection, based on my own experiences. There is great value in doing something to take your mind off whatever might be bothering you. And why not create something beautiful (or not, it doesn't matter!!) at the same time.

Girl's crochet cardigan

girl's crochet cardigan

This crochet cardigan for a 3-4 year old has been lovely to make. I used the crochet pattern - Cardigan and Sweater from King Cole 3033 in King Cole Smooth DK. The colour is violet (King Cole Smooth DK 888).

You'll also need a 4mm and a 3mm crochet hook. It's a lot easier to make than it might look. The biggest challenge was getting the tension right with the 3mm crochet hook for the front bands and collar.

Have fun!

And if you're interested in following my progress from couch potato to marathoner, you can find the story unfolding here.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Head to toe bedroom moment

I'm giving W his bedtime bottle. All is calm, although he is eating rather greedily as he has been to his grandparents today.

So whose gurgle was that? Mine or W's?

If I knew the answer to that question, I probably wouldn't be sitting here covered in sick, from head to toe ... and I'm wearing all black ... again ...

But seriously, when I'm holding him, I can't tell whose stomach it is that is gurgling. When his is going off, it somehow feels like it's mine. Does anyone else think that they still feel some physiological links with their baby? If so, how long does it go on for I wonder ... when is the connection finally lost. Maybe for some it never is, which might account for that sixth sense that some mothers seem to have when their children, even as adults, are in trouble somehow.

I'm not sure we will ever know the answer to that question, so I shall focus on what I can do something about, which is to swap all my black clothes for white/cream until W's on solids!

I've been having the strangest fantasies ...

Recently, I've been having the strangest fantasies ...

1) A life-size cardboard cut out of myself with a tape recording of my voice cooing, chatting nonsense and singing nursery ryhmes (painful listening to anyone but W - actually come to think of it, maybe it's not good listening experience for him either!)
2) A hologram like the one on Star Wars that R2D2 has in his memory banks of Princess Leia, although I'll need a new script for that one and I'm not sure about that hair do either
3) Time travel - possibly a little far-fetched even for fantasy and I'm not sure where the science has got to since I read that Einstein's Theory of Relativity has come in for some stick recently

Now that he's a bit older and has worked out that he isn't going to starve, he's looking for ongoing entertainment. It's like watching a real life experiment on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs! So, how on earth do you satisfy a 4 month old's needs for social engagement, learning and development whilst preserving your own sanity and getting some work done? Can you teach babies to entertain themselves or is that a character trait that they are born with? Don't get me wrong, I'm not wanting to abandon him to his own devices all day every day, but how do you teach children to play happily on their own as well as with others? If I can nail that, then I will be able to stop dreaming about 1), 2) and 3) above and get some more work done!




Tuesday, 1 May 2012

WorkMad - brilliant positive psychology at work

For anyone interested in how organisations might best motivate and engage their professional workforce during times of change, WorkMad provides a suite of consulting, coaching and training services designed to improve employee well-being and resilience, particularly when the going gets tough. I can think of a whole host of my old clients that would benefit from adopting a strengths-based approach!

The site also has a useful introduction to Positive Psychology generally, highlighting the key ideas without drowning the reader. It's run by Bridget Grenville-Cleave. Bridget has an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of East London – the first qualification of its kind in Europe. The specialises in the well-being of organisations and professionals. Bridget is also a founder member of the International Positive Psychology Association and writes a regular column for the online journal, Positive Psychology News Daily. She is also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, MBA (Open), and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Pathway to feeling good

Can it be found through crafting? A group of psychologists has been exploring whether crafts such as knitting (including crochet) and cross-stitch can help with pain management and recovery from depression. Much of the evidence so far appears to be anecdotal, but studies are underway that hope to demonstrate the physical and psychological benefits of these crafts.

In the meantime Stitchlinks, which is run by Betsan Corkhill. This is the opening text from the Welcome Page, which sums up what they are doing far better than I ever could:

"Stitchlinks is pioneering an exciting approach to healthcare which could have global implications and a massive, positive impact on wellbeing.

We are at the core of groundbreaking research, and a movement which utilises crafts, in particular knitting, to improve wellbeing. Stitchlinks is the central hub of this innovative work where you'll find a direct link to the researchers and accurate, up-to-date information.

Our mission is to use knitting and other activities to improve wellbeing generally, but also to complement medical treatments in the self-management of long-term illness. We are working closely with academics and clinicians, and as a direct result, therapeutic knitting and therapeutic knitting groups are being formally acknowledged by leading clinicians and academics for their benefits in mainstream healthcare."

Monday, 30 April 2012

On a happier note

W just about managed to escape being squished by his gorgeous cousins at the weekend


Sunday, 29 April 2012

When the givers are taken

It's been impossible for me this last week, watching the news about the death of Claire Squires while running the London Marathon, not to think of Dad. Two years ago this August, he died while swimming in the London Triathlon. He wasn't even supposed to be competing that day; he was signed up for the individual event the following day. The company had put a team together, encouraged by Dad, and it was they who were taking part on the Saturday. When the colleague who was due to tackle the swim leg was injured, Dad immediately stepped in. What happened once he was in the water, noone has really been able to tell us. We know that it took a good few minutes to get him out of the water once he'd been spotted face down. We know that the medical team on site worked unbelievably hard to bring him back; and they did in fact get his heart beating again. But he'd been without a heartbeat and circulating oxygen for at least 5 minutes and when we reached him in hospital, the medical staff tried so delicately to tell us there was no hope, but that they would do what they could. Three days later, on Mum and Dad's wedding anniversary, the doctors took the decision to turn off the life support machines. Don't ask me what killed him - we still really don't know. My best guess from the autopsy report and the doctors reports at the time was that heat exhaustion was the starting point for what went wrong that day. 

There was little publicity when Dad died. The South Yorkshire Times ran the story of this local lad done well, but the Triathlon organisers struggled to even acknowledge his death. There was no public rush to make donations to Dad's charity of choice, although family, friends and colleagues all contributed generously in his name. Watching the growing total of Claire Squires' Just Giving page had me wondering though ... "was Dad any less loved or admired than Claire?"

I think the answer is that to those who knew and loved Dad and Claire, the loss is unquantifiable and incomparable. And each and every day, hundreds of people give their lives in the service of others without any expectation of thanks or commemoration. That so many strangers have chosen to donate on Claire's page, shows me how much our society really does appreciate the contributions made by the givers and how sad it makes us all when they are taken.

On behalf of all of us, I would like to thank those who supported Dad's charitable endeavours. Mum has always hoped that we might take his initial fund-raising target from £500 to £5,000. We are only a little way off that final target. If you would like to help us reach it, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/ian-sloss, or watch out for details of my up-coming sponsored crochet (yes, I realise it isn't particularly sporty, but it would have made Dad laugh I'm sure!)



Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Hurrah for Mumsnet

They've just accepted me into their blogging network. I'm hoping it's a good thing, a sign that I'm not writing complete and utter drivel and a chance to take the shop global ... hmm well you never know, do you?

Baby Sun Hat Pattern

I've worked this in DMC Natura Cotton using a 3mm Pony crochet hook. Using a finer yarn and a smaller hook has given a head circumference of 18", which is about right for a 3-6mth old baby. It's the same pattern as the last one I made, but that came out at about 20", so is more suitable for a toddler.

The original free pattern for the hat designed by Alla Koval is here. It's written using American terminology. If you'd like the UK version, let me know and I will send you a copy.

crochet baby sun hat

If you like the hat, you might also like the girl's crochet cardigan ...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Thank heaven for little boys !?!?!?!

When I started this blog, I told myself that I wouldn't include any toilet stories because it just seemed a bit unnecessary, but then today happened ... I took W for his third lot of injections and of course he was soooo brave when the nurse jabbed him as she remarked how his lovely chubby thighs would make it easier on him (I wonder where he gets those from?). He hardly cried at all, in fact it was more like an angry shout than an actual cry with real tears like you get when he has to wait 5 minutes for his milk.

As directed, we waited 10 minutes in the surgery to make sure he didn't have a reaction to the shots and then we headed off to The Cosy Club so I could feed him before tackling the 30 minute walk home. We walked via the meadows to say hi to the ducks and laugh at the swan scaring the pigeons off his patch and stopped to call W's dad to let him know what a brave boy he was (that's W, not his dad). I should have realised something was up, because W had gone from being a total chatterbox to a look of complete serenity. It turns out that while his dad was dodging falling masonry, the s**t was really hitting the fan our end!

When we got ourselves settled in the cafe and I unclipped the harness in his pushchair, I noticed with horror that where his t-shirt had ridden up over his little (?!) tummy, his white vest was brown ... from the top of his nappy to his arm pits - front, back and sides. I managed to get him out of his seat and into the baby changing toilet without further mishap, but once I'd got him there, I hadn't a clue where to start. I decided I'd work from the feet up - it took a while, half a packet of baby wipes and some baby yoga positions, but we got there, chatting and laughing all the way. Finally, he's clean and dry and I'm just reaching for his new nappy, when ... yes ... right now, of course ... time for a wee. And what a long one it was. The nappy changing thingy, so well-designed from a safety perspective, now seemed to fill like a basin. I've decided that there is really very little to be done when the hose is going off, certainly if you want to keep the sense of panic to a minimum and avoid scaring the baby. I'm only a little worried that if I keep smiling at him while he's doing it, he'll take it as a sign of approval and start doing it for laughs.

Anyway, nearly half an hour we were in that diabled loo. The Cosy Club staff were getting worried about us we were gone that long. When we eventually did emerge, I'd had to dress W in the only spare clothes I had in the changing bag, which happened to be a 0-3 months babygrow (he now weighs 18lbs). Luckily I had some embroidery scissors in my bag, so I cut the feet out and left the poppers between his chubby thighs undone. Oh what a sight! Thank goodness W didn't see anyone in there he knew!

W downed his milk in one and the lovely bar staff brought me a fresh coffee - thank you thank you thank you - if this happens to me again, could you please make it wine?

Monday, 16 April 2012

Finished!

One baby hat all finished ... apart from it looks way way way too big for a newborn, so I shall be sending for one of my nieces and starting again with the right weight yarn and proper size crochet hook. I think it looks pretty though. I'll see if I can adapt the pattern to make a boy's version and will post both in the projects section when I get a moment

crochet sun hat

Wrong order pics

Was trying out mobile blogger as W had fallen asleep on my knee (yes they are his feet poking out in the pics), but it's put the pics in the wrong order ill change them as soon as i can move.

Yesterday's promised hat pics

This is the crown of the hat, with increases each row worked into the front post of the stitch, rather than two stitches being worked into one. You can see where the increases have happened as they show up as the lines radiating out from the centre ...


The second picture shows where I'm up to and the pretty design that's the brim of the hat. I managed to get this far last night after W had gone to bed, so it gives you an idea of how quickly crochet projects take shape.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

That's one problem solved ...

Since I started this blog, I've found myself struggling for time to do the very thing that got me started here ... crochet! Between freelance headhunting work, admin (including never-ending W washing) and looking after a baby all day, I've had very little time for making which is getting a bit frustrating really.

Today, though, I discovered that if I sit next to W while he's lying on his play mat with all his hanging toys, he will happily watch me crochet and listen as I talk him through the stitches. My only worry now, is that his first words are not "dada" or "mama" or "flippin' starvin'", but "front post treble" or "yarn over needle"!! Oh well, you can't have it all.

Anyway, because I was talking to him, W allowed me to make good progress on a baby sunhat that I'm making. I'd like to get it finished, because it taught me something new - when you're working in the round, you can increase the stitches in your row by working into the front post of the same stitch you've just worked as normal. The hat's in treble crochet and this way of increasing has created a lovely pattern. I'll pop a picture in the project gallery later on for anyone that's interested. As soon as I get time, I'll write the pattern up in there too.

Now that I've got W off to sleep (fingers crossed), I'm going to crack on with the hat ... and then the blanket ... and then the camisole ... and then ... ?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

In case you were wondering ...

W made it until 4.10pm before shouting for more food ... that's a poor 1 hour 10 mins. I think maybe mother and son have some crossed wires on the old communications area ... 5 gulps of milk and he was asleep. Looks like I need a few sleep creating strategies up my sleeve to fool a nosey chappie who doesn't willingly sleep during the day. Suggestions anyone?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Human or Hippo?

For his bed-time feed last W had 11 ounces of formula over the course of an hour. He's 15 weeks old and had only had a 6 ounce bottle at 4.45pm (which he apparently drained within 10mins!). He didn't bring any of it back up and each time I tried to stop feeding him, he shouted at me that he was still hungry and proceeded to tackle the 2 ounce increments as if he hadn't already had the previous ounces. When he got half way through the last 2 ounces, he pushed the bottle out of his mouth with his tongue and went calmly off to sleep.

This massive pre-bed consumption prompted a debate about whether we were over-feeding him and allowing him to comfort eat or whether he was genuinely hungry. I've got a bit of a mental block about dummies, but my partner (probably rightly) suggested that we maybe ought to try one to see if it's just the sucking that W likes and whether that might be enough to give him the comfort and satisfaction he needs to float off to sleep. I'm not sure we reached a conclusion to our debate last night, apart from to agree that we're not keen on toddlers running around with dummies hanging out of their mouths, but maybe it's wrong to count them out.

Anyway, we are lucky enough to have a little boy who has mostly been sleeping through the night for the last 4 weeks. I'm sure it's because he's getting enough milk on board during the day to sustain him and on the days when he has less than usual, he often wakes at 2am for a top up which he seems to drink without even waking up. He only has as much as he needs and as soon as he has had enough, he stops sucking and goes right back to sleep. So, the question is, do I just keep feeding him when he asks for it as he is a happy baby who sleeps through the night? Or is he possibly developing a greedy / comfort eating trait which we ought to nip in the bud (however you do that with a baby!!)?

When he woke at 6.30am this morning, he had a straight 6 ounces. By 8.30am he was after more milk (that's about 2 hours ahead of his usual schedule), so I changed his nappy and tried him with a dummy .... no chance of being fooled by that!! After 3 or 4 attempts to get him to suck on the dummy, which he kept spitting out, I gave in and he had another 6 ounces. By 10.30am he was purple in the face and shouting for more, so I gave him another 6. Amongst all that eating he managed a 40 minute nap in his cot and then after his 10.30am feed he fell asleep on his play mat ....

I disturbed him moving him to his cot and he seemed to be shouting for yet more milk, so I tried the dummy again. This time in his half asleep state, he latched on to it and fell asleep sucking away happily. Awake again after 40 mins and this time he was flippin staaaaarvin!!!! Another 6 ounces straight down in one - then I tried the dummy again, but he laughed me out of town and we settled on another 2 ounces. So, I'm wondering .... growth spurt (again???) maybe and how on earth will we make it from here (3pm) to 5pm without his head exploding through hunger?

Answers on a postcard please ....

Monday, 9 April 2012

Running before he can walk ...

We're not really sure whether W should be trying to stand at 3 months, but it's hard to fight those strong little legs so we're trying him in one of those walker thingies ... Sadly his legs don't quite reach the floor yet, but then neither do mine!

Lovely cake

just had one of my beautiful birthday cup-cakes for breakfast - I'm sure that's not very healthy, but then again, I have just got back to my pre-pregnancy weight, so I'm celebrating .... with cake



actually, these really do look too pretty to eat - thankfully, they taste as good as they look and W is lying on his play-mat with all his toys hanging around him and having a right happy chatter to himself ... maybe I've got time for one more cake ... mmm

As well as cake and cake related bits and pieces, I got a lovely set of Knit Pro Symfonie wooden crochet hooks and a case for putting them in. In fact, I got two cases, which is handy because I've been keeping my hooks in a paper bag up until now!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

And Three Cheers for Nanas & the Mablethorpe Sandtrain

As it was my birthday yesterday, mum agreed to come and babysit for W so I could have a night out on the tiles. Strange but true, my partner and I haven't had a Saturday night out together when I wasn't pregnant that wasn't a family party for over 25 years. I know, on the face of it, that just doesn't stack up, but if you knew the whole story it would make perfect sense. Needless to say, by the time we had eaten dinner and got into town at 10pm, I was exhausted and ready to come home. Sheer willpower kept me going for the first couple of hours, until dare I say I was sufficiently disinhibited (is that even a word?) by a couple of drinkies to allow myself to be lured onto the pub "dancefloor" by an array of cheesy music, which had apparently been requested. I know this is a reasonably sleepy market town, but I'm pretty sure it was actually self-indulgent djs taking advantage of the fact that the poor town folks have almost nowhere else to go for a boogie. Anyway, we had an excellent night, despite the poor music, and thankfully my mum never heard a peep from W all night.

We got home at 3am and W was up for a pre-breakfast snack at 5am. We're so lucky with his sleeping, but I do so wish he'd managed to hold out until 7am this morning! Babies and sore heads really don't mix too well. Babies, sore heads, teenage step-children and a cold, wet, grey Easter Sunday at a minor English seaside resort are a whole new world of pain and challenges - all self-inflicted of course. Thank goodness for the Mablethorpe Sandtrain and seaside sugared donuts.

family on Mablethorpe Sand-Train

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Hurrah for Grandparents!!

W's gone on an adventure with his grandparents and I have a whole day without bottles and nappies. I always miss his giggling and beautiful eyes locking into mine, but it is lovely to be able to get on with some things.

The question though, is what to do first ... I'm still working freelance for my old headhunting company in London. That's paid work and a clear priority. Plus I get to speak to lots of grown-ups and pretend for a few hours that I'm still living my old life (which actually I barely miss if I'm honest!). I can squeeze in a few posts on here along the way, particularly to beef up the crochet pages. Apologies to anyone who visits those pages at the moment and leaves disappointed .... I will get the content on them as quickly as I can. Which leaves ... oh dear ... the housework ... again - oops! At the very least, I must clear up after last night's rather late but delicious home made rajasthani red meat curry. The grandparents spotted it as soon as they walked in this morning to pick up their grandson - oops again!

Note to self: earn more and get a cleaner!!!!

Easy Baby Blanket Project

I've just updated the project page with details on how I made W's baby blanket. It's a great project for getting the basics of crochet nailed before getting stuck into more complex patterns. Working the rows backwards and forwards is strangely therapeutic and it was great for keeping me occupied when I was pregnant ....

Baby Blanket I

This blanket is in double crochet (US single crochet) using a 4mm hook and a variety of yarns from crochet cottons to baby alpaca - basically a little bit of everything of DK and 4 ply weight that I had in my yarn stash. It is an excellent project for perfecting some basic crochet techniques. It will help you to practice:
  • Making an even chain, loose enough to work, but firm enough to provide a strong edge
  • Double crochet (US single crochet) stitch to a regular tension over a large area
  • Turning your work, including using turning chains and maintaining a straight edge
  • Changing your yarn to create the stripes
  • Working in the loose ends of your yarn
  • Creating a decorative edge

crochet stripy baby blanket


By using a variety of yarns, you will have the opportunity to learn a lot about tension and the relationship between yarn weight and hook size. I used the same size hook throughout and loosened or tightened the tension using my fingers. As a result, some stripes are very solid and firm, and some are a bit looser, which creates slightly different textures for baby to explore. By working this way, I was able to maintain the same number of stitches throughout the project.

To make the blanket:
  • Choose a starting yarn such as a double knit cotton and make a slip knot in the end of the yarn
  • Make a chain that is about 1m long. Focus on making the individual loops as even as possible. Baggy stitches are a sign that your tension is too loose; really small stitches are a sign that your tension is too tight. In my experience, it will be about right when you can comfortably slip your hook between the top V of the stitch and the back loop of the chain (please bear with me while I work on some drawings / pictures / videos!)
  • When you've finished your chain, turn your work so that you can go back the way you just came. Using the same yarn, start by working your first double crochet (US single crochet) stitch into the second loop from your hook. That gives you your first turning chain of a single chain. If we were working in treble crochet, we would need a turning chain that was 3 chains long. The turning chain effectively becomes the first stitch in your new row.
  • This first row, or foundation row as it is known, can be a bit tricky when you're starting out. Focus on keeping your tension as even as you can, by keeping an eye on your stitch sizes - too small and your tension is too tight, too big and your tension is too loose. Make sure you are putting the hook into the same place for each stitch so that you get a good strong even edge.
DON'T LOSE HEART, THE NEXT ROW WILL BE MUCH EASIER!
  • When you get to the end of your foundation row, working in the same yarn, chain 1 to create your turning chain for the next row (remember, it's a single chain because you are working in double crochet). Now turn your work and place your first double crochet stitch into the last double crochet stitch of the previous row, ignoring the the turning chain.
  • Work the rest of the row in double crochet, remembering to keep an eye on your tension, and making sure you place a double crochet stitch in every stitch of the last row. If you make a mistake, it's really easy to unravel your work and do it again. If you spot the mistake early on, this is definitely worth doing, but if you're half way down your work, I'd chalk it down to experience and carry on.
  • When you're ready to move on to your next stripe, select your new yarn.
  • To make a perfect stripe, you join your new colour yarn on the last stitch of the previous row in the old colour. Work your last double crochet as normal for that row, but when you get to the final two loops on the hook, switch to the new yarn.
  • Make your single turning chain in the new yarn and then turn your work and double crochet as before, ignoring the turning chain and putting your first stitch in the last stitch from the previous row.
  • Experiment with different stripe depths and different colour combinations. Aim to keep the stripes the same width by adjusting your tension so that the blanket stays the same width without increasing or decreasing stitches.
  • If you want a square blanket, keep going for 1m. Mine ended up being about 1.5m long.
  • When it's the required length, fasten off the last yarn.
  • Select a yarn for finishing the edges. I used a combination of a single line of white double crochet to create a neat edge to work from, and then a shell edge in red as decoration.
  • You'll need to work in all the yarn ends from the stripes. You can do this individually for each yarn which obviously gives the neatest result, or you can cheat a bit and work your double crochet edge over the ends so that they are effectively wrapped in your edging.
  • By the time you come to do the edging, you will be a double crochet expert, which will help you get this bit right. When you're doing the edges, there isn't a nice neat and tidy line of stitches to work from the last row. You will need to use your judgement and a bit of trial and error to create an edge that is straight and flat. If you pick up too many stitches, it will start to look more like a ruffle than an edge; too few stitches and your work will look puckered. I recommend keeping your work reasonably flat so that you can keep an eye on what you're doing. (If you can manage to make the number of stitches on each side divisible by 6 with one over, that will help you with the decorative shell edge.)
  • Once you've been all the way around the edge and reached your starting point, join your last stitch to your first with a simple slip stitch and fasten off.
  • For the decorative edging, I chose a shell edge.
  • Have a look at your work and decide if you think there is a right side. Then with right side facing, join the yarn for your edging into the fastened off slip stitch you've just made.
  • To create the shell edge, you will work each individual shell pattern over 6 stitches. Ideally, you will have been able to create sides with stitches divisible by 6 with 1 over. If you're a little out, don't worry too much, you'll be able to add in an extra stitch or two as you go - use your judgement here. Only you will know that you've fudged the pattern a bit to make it work!
  • So, with right side facing and your yarn joined in the slip stitch for the last row, miss 2 stitches, then work 5 treble crochets in the next stitch, then miss 2 stitches and finally slip stitch into the next stitch. To create the next shell, you do exactly the same thing: miss 2 stitches, work 5 treble crochets in the next stitch, miss 2 stitches and slip stitch into the next stitch. You should be able to see how that works out over 6 of your stitches from the last row each time. Properly written in pattern terminology, the shell pattern looks like this: *miss 2sts, 5tr in next st, miss 2 sts, 1ss in next st, rep from * to end.
  • When you get back to where you started, slip stitch into the first stitch of the edging and fasten off.

If you've enjoyed making this blanket, then I've created another kind of as a stitch sampler. It's the wavy baby car seat blanket!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Choosing your yarn and hook

Yarn & Hook

There are a whole host of crochet specific yarns out there, but you can crochet with any yarn and even with plastic bags, twine, wire or fabric!

When you're starting out, I recommend a DK (double knit or worsted in American terminology) weight cotton yarn in a light colour. This will be smooth to work with and will create loops and stitches that you will be able to see clearly. Something like King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK which comes in a great range of colours, has a smooth surface and isn't prone to splitting. For a slightly finer weight yarn (4ply or sportweight), try the DMC Natura Cotton range.

Once you've selected your yarn, you'll need a hook. Hooks range in size from 0.5mm to 25mm and beyond. They come in a variety of materials from plastic, to steel, to bamboo and rose wood. A good place to start that will keep your initial outlay to a minimum while you're learning is the Pony Crochet Hook range; but if you want to treat yourself, then the colourful wooden Knit Pro Crochet Hooks are a delight to work with.

For DK (worsted) yarn, I would tend to go for a 3.5mm hook. As you gain in experience, you can try different hook sizes to change the tension of your work. You can also check the band from the ball of yarn that you are planning on using. Often, it will show the recommended knitting needle sizes only, but as a general rule, the yarn will crochet up well in a hook size which is 0.5mm smaller than the recommended knitting needles. By way of example, the band on the King Cole Bamboo Cotton DKrecommends using 4mm knitting needles. So if we subtract 0.5mm from 4mm, we get to the 3.5mm crochet hook.

Oh No - Family Wide Bug!

First experience of a sick household :( all members feeling distinctly poorly. Thank goodness W seems to be mostly sleeping his off. Should be an opportunity to catch up on the washing, housework, ongoing crochet projects, but I think I might have a snooze myself. Maybe I'll wake up feeling on top of the world! Or at least without achey arms. Oh dear, spoke too soon - he's awake again ...

Monday, 2 April 2012

Nesting Crochet

While I was still pregnant and once I'd finished the blanket, I thought I would have a go at making a little jacket for the new baby. Bearing in mind I had no idea of the sex, I took a punt on blue and white, thinking I could add pink buttons if it was a boy! What I hadn't realised though, was that the vintage pattern I had used was actually for a 2 year old ... and on top of that, I used a cotton yarn that I had in my stash which was probably entirely unsuitable for the project. If I ever get him in it when he's big enough, he'll hardly be able to use his arms, poor kid!! It makes me think of what it would have been like to be a two year old in Victorian times.

So I am recording the project here for posterity before I unpick it and try again. It's a really cute Sunday best type jacket though, so I'll just get some more suitable yarn. I've got 21 months to get it right ...

vintage baby crochet cardigan

Learner Mum Update

I've been busy this morning updating my page on being a new mum. The plan is to share my own experiences and thoughts and include some of the things that I wish I'd known at the beginning, as well as the things I'm learning as I go along.

As he's asleep now though, I shall take the opportunity to work a few more rows of the baby blanket I'm making for a friend. Here's where I've got to ....


I hope that's not too much pink for a boy!!!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Going Mobile

I've just downloaded the iPhone app and am trying it out for the first time. I seem to spend so much time out and about these days, pushing W from coffee shop to park and back to coffee shop, I'm hoping it will be a perfect way for me to post regularly and with the added benefit of taking pictures of what I'm working on at the time. I've always got some crochet with me so I can take advantage of those luxurious moments when he goes to sleep!

When I'm not looking after W or enjoying crochet, I'm getting on with some freelance headhunting work, which is what I ought to be doing now because it pays the bills; but it really is a lovely day out there again, so I'm thinking a trip to the town meadows and river will be much better for both of us than me sitting inside making phone calls to people who would rather be sat out in the sunshine.

I'd best crack on with getting us out of the house. What used to take 5 mins, now takes 30!!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Baby Blanket

crochet baby blanket

... here's a picture of the blanket I made for W - it kept him warm when he was born, and entertains him for hours now he's 3 months old!

here's how I made it Crochet Baby Blanket Free Pattern

First Post

Hello fellow crafters! I fell in love with all things hand made as a child. Thrown into a foreign school with little knowledge of the language, it was possibly inevitable that I would look forward to those lessons where it didn't matter what was being said, it was more important to be able to copy what was being done. So, by the age of 6, the little English girl in a German school in the suburbs of Munich had learned a life long love of knitting, crochet, sewing, weaving and basket making.

Over the years back in the UK, I developed my design and sewing skills. Throughout my secondary schooling, I made extra pocket money from designing and making prom dresses for 6th form and 18th birthday parties. I studied textiles for A level and learned how to spin, weave fabric and make traditional braides from around the world. In amongst that, I periodically picked up the knitting needles, and I still have a jumper I knitted 25 years ago that I pretty much lived in through the summer - I so wish that I still had the pattern!

Crochet is something that I've only recently gone back to. Like the other needlecrafts, I learned to crochet as a girl. I remember enjoying it, but for some reason, I never really pursued it. In the spring of 2011 I fell pregnant with my first child and instinctively, I think, began looking for something that I could do that would connect me on a daily basis with the life growing inside me. I had a really random collection of odd bits of yarn. The old sewing machine repair shop at the bottom of the Roman Road in Bow must surely have a few crochet hooks ... and they did and I was off. So, the very first thing I crocheted after a break of about 25 years, was a lovely colourful stripey blanket for my new baby.

Now he's 3 months, he loves the stripes and bright colours. When he's not inspecting his hands, he's staring at different parts of the blanket, stroking and pulling at the different colours. I haven't stopped there with my crochet. I made my nieces bright, colourful hats for Christmas, and my mum a scarf. I've crocheted my little boy little jackets and myself a lace motif camisole. Now, I'm in the middle of a baby blanket for a friend who has just had a baby too. I'm using it as an opportunity to try out new stitches and practice different techniques. It still has the brightly coloured stripes though, so hopefully he will love it as much as W loves his.

The hardest thing really is finding the time between feeds, nappy changes and playing with W to be able to do a few rows! Luckily, my mother in law has a lovely haberdashery shop and keeps me well supplied with yarn. I'm helping my partner get the shop online and it's really gathering momentum now. Come and see us at www.mariashaberdashery.co.uk. If there's anything you'd like us to stock, then please let us know. We'd like it to be the place you know you can come to for whatever you need for your knitting, sewing, crochet and crafting projects. If we haven't got it, we can get it for you and we regularly check our prices to make sure we are amongst the lowest. I will be posting reviews of the items that I've used and I'll get some pictures so you can see how projects turn out.

I'm off now to crochet a few rows of this baby blanket while W is asleep - hurrah!!