Summer sun it was not. Autumn monsoon more like.

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I spent a lovely few days on the west coast of Scotland, in an attempt to re-trace my baby steps. I spent about 18 months living on a small island when I was a baby. It was the place I learned to walk; my first ‘shoes’ were little red wellies.

As I have no recollection, and my father is no longer here to ask for details I had very little to go on. Infact, all I have is a small photo of myself and 3 siblings standing next to an old Citroen and a stone building. This photo was taken 45 year ago. My eldest sibling, who was 10 at the time we left the island, was keen for me to take photographs and report back my discoveries. She has more of a memory of this time of our lives than me, having attended the small island primary school (and was taught in gaelic) and remembers the shop, the school and the ferries.

I took a few photos of the buildings in the areas on the map with the correct names but none are bringing back memories for her, infact she thought our house was at the end of a long dirt track. I did have to point out that 45 years ago, before roads were upgraded to tarmac, probably all the roads on the island were dirt tracks!

The day we spent on the island was one of the wettest days they had experienced for weeks, or months. The island was experiencing a drought and the rain was much welcomed. We were the only two people on the morning ferry, with our bicycles, and the ferry man said he wasn’t expecting a busy day given the forecast.

I thoroughly enjoyed my cycle around the island, but I can honestly say I could not have been more soaked through! It wasn’t cold rain though, probably about 16 degrees, and the cycling was exhilarating, and the exploring and trying to find old places was exciting.

By the time we got back to the ferry point and had to wait for the ferry to come across from the mainland, I was soaked but happy. It really was a good day.

Festive hexes

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Still a work in progress but getting there, is my Hexagon blanket for a child in hospital at Christmas. Known as a Christmas Cwtch blanket for Woolly Hugs charity, this will hopefully be ready to post for the October deadline. Or is it September? I’d better check!

I’m really enjoying the festive colours, they remind me of candy cane festive films. And I’m glad I decided to do hexagons for a change during my year of Granny squares projects.

I have five festive colours plus cream and am really liking the solid hexagons with a bold circle in the middle.

Once I had made enough hexagons for a child size snuggle blanket, I had to decide on a layout. Random is more difficult than you think, but I wasn’t sure whether stripes or diagonal worked well either. In the end, I decided to go random. I tried to work out if there was an efficient way to join as you go, but it hurt my brain, so I’m just joining randomly, sometimes two or three edges, sometimes one. Many ends to sew in, but as I’ve said before, I quite enjoy sewing in the ends. I find it satisfying and relaxing.

Randomly joining hexagons

Once they are joined I will need to decide what kind of border to do. I like the idea of edging with a red and white candy cane effect crab stitch but that will depend on whether I can work out how to do it!

I don’t think one day is enough.

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I think I’m enjoying crocheting so much this year because almost all of my ongoing projects are some kind of granny squares.

My double strand granny square was started spontaneously, a suggestion from my husband and an easy relaxing project to pick up when the mood took me. It’s getting almost big enough (as I had no plan to start it, I’m not sure when to finish it), and will be a good size sofa snuggling blanket, nice and thick, with a good weight to it. It’s a square because it is just one big granny square, so not ideal for a bed, but ideal for winter warmth on the sofa.

My King size double bed blanket is half way to completion. I had a vague target of getting it done and on the bed by the end of the year and so far I’m on track. It might take me a little longer as I’ve not included a border in my time calculations, but if I spend a little more time on it and less time on housework (ha ha!) it is perfectly do-able.

I love the production line I’ve created for making my granny squares. I randomly select a few colours one evening and crochet the centres in each colour. And I do a few spares to go into my production line bag, for using another time with other colours. This way it keeps the colour variation as random and varied as possible. Then, I do the second rounds. Some of these then get put into the production line bag and others get finished off with a third round. Once I’ve completed the third round I sew in the ends and the squares get promoted to the bag for finished granny squares. Once I have enough variety in this bag, I select 20 squares to join on for my next row.

Some evenings I’m in the mood for random square making and other evenings I’m in the mood for joining squares and growing the blanket. Both parts of the process are satisfying in their own way. I’m really enjoying making this blanket and also looking forward to having it finished and looking beautiful on my bed.

My 2021 blanket isn’t a temperature blanket. After 2020 I couldn’t face doing another straight away. But I did want to have a year long project that would hold memories and mark another year, no matter how good or bad it turned out to be. I decided on doing one square per month, very little pressure or commitment, and no rules to follow. Each month I select 3 colours based on my mood, the weather, my garden, or just because I like the combo, and I crochet a granny square. They’re a decent size. The finished blanket will be not quite single bed size but larger than my standard sofa snuggling size I think. A generous throw, or camping blanket.

I’ve also made a pair of granny square slippers this year. Very simple to make and with the wool content they should keep my feet warm in the winter while I’m sat at my desk. Working from home has it’s perks – no need to dress up and I can wear granny squares on my feet with no judgement!

August 15th 2021 is granny square day! I will make a special square to mark the occasion. But really, I feel that every day should be a granny square day. They make me happy.

WiPs in April, May and June 2021..

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It’s been a crazy few months and I’ve done less crochet and sewing than I’d hoped to.

Sadly my father died in May. He had been battling cancer for several years but it was still sudden and unexpected in the end. He will be missed.

I’m still working on my beautiful granny square blanket. It’s growing steadily, and I think I’m still roughly on schedule. I’m on row 10 of 21 and hoping to finish it by the end of the year.

In April it was my 2nd lockdown birthday and my son gave me these gorgeous little scissors. So pretty and sharp and handy size to fit in a WiP bag.

In May it was my younger son’s 18th birthday, and timed to perfection with places opening up, we managed a lunch in our favourite restaurant. He is now the happy owner of a handmade chess set (bought from someone skilled, not my handiwork) and a new wetsuit.

I’m also still working on my double dk strand blanket. It’s growing nicely, and so warm and chunky.

And I’ve also successfully made myself a top, including my first ever bias binding neckline. It’s a bit oversized and shapeless but I love the fabric and will definitely be attempting more handmade clothes. My eldest son gave me a voucher for buying some sewing patterns so I have no excuse, just no time at the moment!

Sewing bags for crochet

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Inspired by Ali (Little Drops of Wonderful), I have been making some little drawstring bags. I’m almost able to make one without watching her YouTube tutorial. I say almost because on my most recent one I forgot to leave a hole in the lining to turn the bag right side out which meant finding my stitch unpicker.

I love that I can use some random bits of fabric, patterns and colours that I love, and can turn them into a really useful bag fairly quickly and easily. It’s been a great way to practice basic sewing, and gave me the confidence to try making my own tops!

There is nothing nicer and more satisfying than storing a crochet WiP in an attractive bag I’ve made myself. I used to have random Wool warehouse bags all over the place, but random floral handmade drawstring bags are much less “messy” and keep the dog hairs off my wool.

The addition of useful pockets makes the bags even more functional. I like to store my part-made granny squares (I’m working on a king size Granny square blanket so have a LOT of squares on the go..) and my hook and scissors so they are always to hand.

This bag was made from and old shirt, lined with a tshirt my son outgrew. It was my first time sewing tshirt material, and I did find it trickier than the stiffer cottons, but love the softer lining and love love love the contrast colours.

I made this one for my sister as a surprise gift. I chose the fabrics specially for her – vintage sunflowers and hens – the perfect prints for her. Using 2 strands of crochet cotton I made a long chain for the drawstring, which works really well.

This little one was a quick mother’s day gift bag for my mother in law. I felt slightly under pressure to make a good job of it, afterall this is the lady who 61 years ago made her own wedding dress! She was suitably impressed and I was quite relieved.

This one is my favourite – made from a mishmash of beautiful floral fabrics, and my largest one, that holds my largest WiP. One day I will get round to crocheting a drawstring for it. Currently I’m using a repurposed gazebo guy rope, which is a bit plasticky and stiff, but does the job.

I will definitely make more, for holding WiPs and for gift bags. They are fun, satisfying and quick to make, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to make something from beginning to end in an afternoon. I love crochet but I have several longterm projects on the go this year, far from quick makes. The end results will be very satisfying and I’m enjoying the relaxing longterm nature of them, but do also love finishing something pretty occasionally too!

My 2021 blanket

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I couldn’t face crocheting another temperature blanket this year, but liked the idea of creating a blanket to mark the year so I came up with a plan.

Each month I will pick 3 random colours from my stash, whatever colours reflect my mood, or the weather or what’s happening in my world. And with white as the one constant I will crochet a granny square for each month, meaning I will have 12 random squares by December.

I’m making the squares big enough so that my 3×4 blanket will be a good snuggle size, not quite single bed but a decent size for sofa snuggling or campfire cosiness.

It’s nice to have one low-pressure project ongoing, knowing I will have created a whole blanket that will have 2021 memories crocheted into it by the end of the year.

January’s square was crocheted before I went back to work after Christmas and New Year, and was just random colours I picked because I liked the combination. It turns out the colours matched my favourite tea cup perfectly but that wasn’t deliberate!

February’s square reflects the minus temperatures we had, and the snow.

For March’s square I wanted to do daffodil and spring green but the yellow I had in my stash wasn’t really a daffodil yellow. It definitely has a Spring vibe though.

I’m looking forward to choosing colours for April.

Ohlaydeeme x

What I’m crocheting and sewing. Aka WiPs in March 2021.

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I thought I might try to do quarterly WiP updates although I’m not sure I’ve actually finished anything since I wrote my last WiP update. I do, however, have a lot of things on the go, and I’m flitting between them excitedly and happily. You could say I’m craft-tastic at the moment. Observers might say I’m craft daft, or mildly obsessed, but it’s been winter, and lockdown, and there really isn’t much else to do other than a daily walk and a bit of housework.

Little birds WiP

I’m making little birds with the idea of stringing them up one above the other to create a hanging “thing” for my mother in law. For over 20 years she had a string of Indian-style birds hanging in her kitchen but she took them down at the start of 2020 because they were very dusty. I’m sure she could have lovingly dusted or hoovered them gently but she couldn’t be bothered. So, as her kitchen has a bird sized gap, I thought I could fill it. I originally planned to crochet the birds but decided that maybe she would prefer pretty fabric birds. These ones are a very different style to her previous ones, and some are slightly less perfect than I’d like, but they are made with love so hopefully will be appreciated and displayed. Maybe one day we can go into her kitchen and see them up!! (That will depend on when covid restrictions are eased.)

Double stranded Granny square

I’m making a chunky Granny square blanket, for sofa snuggling. I’m using two strands of DK together (a mix of Hayfield Bonus and Stylecraft from my stash). I have to give my husband credit for the idea, and I was dubious for the first few rounds but now I love it. I think he was hoping it would use up some of my stash, and it is! So much so that I will need to order a top up soon.. I bet that wasn’t part of his plan! I’m using two colours at a time, changing one colour each round so the colours blend into the next. The effect is very pleasing and although my colour selection is randomly based on which ones I have enough of to get round two rounds of ever growing granny square, it’s working. Not my usual well thought out colour selection technique but quite freeing and relaxing, which is sometimes nice to pick up after a stressful day at work (from home) or school (from home) stresses with my son.

Granny square blanket

I’m still working on my king size Granny squares blanket – 3 round random stash squares joined in duck egg stylecraft life dk. Very satisfying and easy. It’s growing nicely. I’m hoping to crochet 21 rows (of 20 squares) by the end of the year, and I’m currently joining row 6 so I’m on schedule I think.

Gift bag with crochet draw string

I made a very quick gift bag for mothers day, lined in a pretty floral fabric and crocheted the drawstring. I didn’t bother boxing the bottom. It was a nice easy quick make.

Granny square slippers

Using a layout in Simply Crochet magazine, issue 92, I am making some simple ballerina style slippers. I bought Stylecraft Life in a lovely mottled maroon colour and a complimenting dark blue. I thought the wool content would add extra warmth. My plan is to use the fleece fabric from an old maroon dressing gown to line them with, for added cosiness.

I made a drawstring bag for my sister, to hold her crochet. I’m planning to send it to her as a surprise so I hope she doesn’t read my blog! The vintage sunflower fabric and fun hen fabric reminded me of her, so I couldn’t resist a fat quarter of each which was just enough for this bag, with a small bit leftover.

I think that’s about it for my March WiPs. I’m looking forward to choosing colours for my April square, for my 2021 blanket. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that on here yet? If not, that will be my next post!

Ohlaydeeme x

Two together

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For my husband’s lockdown birthday he requested a new beanie. I think this man is the proud owner of more crocheted beanies than anyone else on the planet. But he loves wearing a beanie – they keep his head warm. Also, like his reading glasses, he uses the system of having many and leaving them lying around so he can always find one! To me, having a system where you always put them back in the same place so you know where to find them makes more sense but if it works for him, who am I to judge? (I have control-freakery tendencies so always try to push my comfort zone and allow him to do things differently if it works for him or makes him happy.)

I had recently done a random wool order to top up my stash, because my king size random Granny square blanket is gradually using up colours, and also I’d noticed that Bonus DK had brought out a few new colours that I wanted to try/own. He picked a dark and a light khaki green and rather than stripes (we are both a fan of stripes) he suggested I use two strands together to create a thicker beanie (I think the recent -14 temperatures and the fact he works outside all day influenced his request).

I don’t think I’ve ever worked 2 strands together. It was fun and quick and really thick! I had to adapt my usual beanie recipe, even the one I use for Aran or chunky wool, so just used a previous beanie as a guide. I find that once you know what size the crown should be, the rest is easy. He has a large head and I do increasing circles until the crown is 15cm. This fits him perfectly. For “normal” size heads I think 12-13cm is better, depending on how snug the wearer likes their beanie to be.

I really like the subtle two-tone khaki and the lovely thick warmth of this beanie. He is happy with it too, says it’s his best ever beanie. (He knows how to sweet talk his wife..)

Two-strands then became a theme and I’ve started a two strands granny square blanket. One big granny square, changing one colour at a time, every second row so the colours gradually blend. It’s using quite a lot of my stash so before too long I will need to top up again, but I’m enjoying the effect it has, and how quick and easy thick granny squares are.

I have other WiPs on the go too, so I’m sure this one will be parked for a bit. I’d like to actually finish something soon, so starting another blanket really wasn’t part of my plan!

Ohyladeeme xx

Spanner in the works..

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I had an unusual request from my husband. He needed a new case for his spanner, because the old one had perished.

Using the old case as a size guide, I whipped up a new one. A few minor adjustments were required because a couple wouldn’t slide in, but it didn’t take more than a small unpick, a wee tweak and re-stitch to make them all fit neatly all in a row.

I’m sure a case made of cotton won’t be hard-wearing, but he assures me the spanners get occasional use and it will be looked after and mostly just look nice in the back of his landrover.

So, he’s happy and I’m happy because I used it as a practice run for a new crochet hook case!

I used scrap fabric from my stash and really enjoyed the challenge. It’s good to keep the old grey matter working.

Ohlaydeeme x

What I’m crocheting. Aka WiPs at the start of 2021

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I enjoyed a good few days off work over Christmas and New Year and did a lot of crocheting. Not much else to do during a lockdown, except for a walk, on the days when it wasn’t too treacherously icy.

I crocheted a lot of Granny squares. I’m making a King size blanket so I need a LOT. They’re quick and fun and relaxing to make. I ordered 12 balls of Stylecraft DK in Duck Egg to join them. I hope that’s enough.

This is something I can pick up and put down as and when I have time or inclination. And I’m loving it.

I’ve even started joining the first row. I’m doing a JAYGO but not the continuous join I used for my last Granny square blanket, because I’d rather see it grow and progress than wait until the end to join them all. It means a few more ends to sew in but I’m OK with that.

Inbetween granny squares I made a pair of fingerless gloves. Very simple, made up as I went along. They’re fun and cheerful and I will probably wear them at my desk to keep warm during the next few weeks.

I’ve also been crocheting some 6 inch squares for a collective charity blanket. I’m limited by the wool I have in my stash, as I generally use Hayfield Bonus DK and so don’t have many colours of Stylecraft DK which is what the group uses.

Its nice to make a few random squares knowing they will go together with squares from others to create a blanket.

I just need to brave the weather (it’s currently snowing) to get them to a post box.

A nearly finished Campfire cardigan is the next thing that I must get on and finish (just working on the hood) so I can start something new. Hopefully it will be finished soon and I can show you, and let you see what I’m planning next!

Ohlaydeeme x