heart to heart

Our lovely baby now is three months and although I don’t dare actually try putting him down in the evenings, he sleeps very well on my lap in the dark and I have become a little more confident to stay up a bit later. I recently invested in a headtorch and decided to pick up my crochet hook for these holding baby in the bedroom times. A nice quiet pastime.

In honour of the occasion of the last week I decided to make some little hearts and they are sweet. I missed my Valentine’s Day deadline mostly because I got confused about which day it was, and mainly also because crocheting by torchlight is not so speedy and the torch makes my forehead itch a bit after a little while. But look, I got there in the end and have even written the pattern. They have taken up residence on Rose’s wall and look very lovely there (even though i didn’t line them up with the mirror very well, bit keen with the hammer)

Here’s how to make your own if you like:

Heart to heart crochet garland

U S E F U L  T O  K N O W

Y o u  w i l l  n e e d

DK yarn in three colours. I have used sirdar snuggly DK in colours 419 choo choo train, 344 oatmeal and 456 pretty coral. You could really use anything for this project, try lighter yarn for delicate hearts or chunky for a bigger bolder garland.

A 3.5mm hook

A tapestry needle for sewing in your ends

A b b r e v i a t i o n s

dc        =      double crochet (US single crochet) insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook and draw through, yarn over hook and draw through both loops.

st         =      stitch

sts      =       stitches

slst      =      slip stitch – insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook, draw through stitch and loop

ch        =      chain

dc2tog  =    decrease by crocheting two stitches together – insert hook into first stitch, yarn over hook and draw through, insert hook into next stitch, yarn over hook and draw through,  yarn over hook and draw through all three loops.

(10) – numbers in brackets tell you how many stitches you should have at the end of each round

M e t h o d s  a n d  t e c h n i q u e s

Magic ring  –  to form a magic ring, wrap your yarn twice around your four fingers on your non-hook hand to create two loops. Using your hook, pull the second loop (the one attached to your ball of wool) under the first, grip where they cross and slip your fingers out, then yarn over hook and draw through and pull tight to secure. Continue working into the ring for your first round as per pattern. (YouTube has some good videos which might be easier to follow – this is very difficult to explain in words!.)

This pattern is worked in rounds rather than rows so at the beginning of your round simply continue into the next st.

Also I am left handed if some of my work in progress pictures look a bit backwards!

Heart to heart crochet garland

T H E  P A T T E R N

P o i n t  a n d  b o d y

To begin, 6dc into a magic ring, pull end tight to close the ring and continue working in continuous rounds as follows:

  1. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next st, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next st, 2 dc into last st (10)
  2. 1 dc into every st (10)
  3. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 3 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 3 sts, 2 dc into final st  (14)
  4. 1 dc into every st  (14)
  5. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 5 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 5 sts, 2 dc into final st  (18)
  6. 1 dc into every st (18)
  7. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 7 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 7 sts, 2 dc into final st  (22)
  8. 1 dc into every st (22)
  9. 2 dc into next st, 1 dc into next 9 sts, 2 dc into next 2 sts, 1 dc into next 9 sts, 2 dc into final st  (26)
  10. 1 dc into every st (26)

B u m p s

(please note that these rounds blend together as the last stitch of the previous round and first stitch on the next round are crocheted together to shape the edge so although I have numbered the rounds they are not quite so separate)

Crochet heart in progressCrochet heart in progress

  1. 1 dc into next 7 sts, miss the following 13 sts, 1 dc into following 5 sts, dc2tog (12 in this small round)
  2. 1 dc into next 11 sts, dc2tog (11)
  3. dc2tog a further 5 times (6)

Slst to finish. Break yarn and sew in end to close the opening at the top.

Crochet heart in progressCrochet heart in progress

Rejoin yarn at the opposite outer edge, dc into next 11 sts, dc2tog (12)

Repeat rows 2 and 3 once more and finish in the same way.

Press heart flat with your fingers so that your shaping falls at the outer edges. Sew in your loose ends.

To create a garland like mine you will need 7 hearts and simply thread a length of wool through. You could also use some for a mobile or sew a pin on the back of one to make a brooch, or maybe just leave one on your boyfriend/girlfriend’s pillow, or through their letterbox if they are only your boyfriend/ girlfriend in your imagination.

Heart to heart crochet garland

If you make some hearts please let me know, I’d love to see them.

Albert

Hello and happy new year! A little bit of a long overdue greeting from me. I am pleased to announce my best creation of 2016- Albert. Six days late and born on Rose’s birthday!

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Here he is with his wonderful big sister just a few days old (he is almost three months now – slow down time). She has been a real gem, I never imagined how patient she can be. And she just loves her brother. One day this week I got a bit cross with her and she went and sat with to him to sulk and tell him all about how misunderstood she was. Little partners in crime. I have been trying very hard to photograph them together every week to record how they grow. I’ll be sure to share some of those as the months pass.

Sorry if I vanish again for a bit – it’s quite busy here, but very nice and we’re having fun (despite the frozen winter and pouring rain) my evenings are mostly spent in a dark room with a sleeping baby and iplayer, but I am hoping for a chance to pick up some crochet again soon. I’ll let you know!

 

 

 

 

Woollen friends

So here I am – getting very fat, but at last on maternity leave! I have had a bit of a tiring few weeks of work, doing a few more hours than I was used to, and really struggling to keep on top of my life – but am pleased to be at home again now, and although Rose and I are not really doing any blog-worthy activities (our favourite pastimes at the moment are making ‘just add an egg’ cakes and ‘shout singing’ to Frozen!) we are enjoying this new pace of life and the new routine the autumn brings (I am sure she agrees!)

After Rose has gone to sleep though, I have really re-discovered my crochet hook and it is proving to be the perfect activity to relax with. I am mostly making woodland creatures. It’s nice to make some things just for fun. And I like the faces and taking pictures of them for instagram and seeing the other gems posted there. I have been trying to write up the patterns too, but this is a little bit more brain work than I can really manage at the moment, but maybe a project for the future.

Here are some pictures of some foxes – Felix and Sylvia… little friends…

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Happy woolly faces!

Donkey Derby

Today was the donkey derby in our little town and we popped along – what a funny little thing!

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I didn’t actually know what a donkey derby was, but found out it is actual donkey races! They were a bit chaotic and quite funny. Rose really had no idea what was going on but enjoyed seeing the donkeys, and also some owls which were there.

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She also had her first taste of fairground rides and it was a bit traumatic to drag her away from the merry go round! Luckily we managed to get her off after she’d been round twice as it was a bit of a pricey ride.

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Despite the grey sky this was a nice afternoon. We finished the day at the park where all the rides are free and Rose went to bed extra early tonight so that was a good sign.

I hope you’re enjoying your bank holiday too.

Happy Birthday Nanny Jo

Yesterday it was my mum’s and Rose’s Nanny Jo’s birthday! We didn’t manage to see her on the day, but had a get together today. Rose likes birthdays a lot and we’ve had a lot recently, although she still has a little way to go before her own. But she enjoys the celebrations and knows what’s important for a birthday – especially a cake.

So we decided it would be nice to make Nanny Jo a cake to celebrate, especially as she would never let any of our birthdays pass without it.

I whisked up a simple jam sponge sandwich secretly in the kitchen while Rose was eating her lunch. She love loves to bake, but we did a bit of baking over the weekend (bit of a baking flop – although I might share the photos of the mess one day….) and I was feeling like I was a bit baked out to bear a re-run so soon. Instead I decided to approach this activity as a creative cake decorating event, and Rose really embraced the challenge.

all set up for cake decoratingbirthday cake in progressa delicate operation cake decorating like a pro

I set everything up in advance, putting different decorative sweets into bowls and pre icing the cake ready. Since starting my blog I have tried really hard to do more creative activities with her, but this has really highlighted to me that she is not that interested in them – which is hard for me because that’s really what I like – she is more of a whirlwind climber / thrower type (although she likes the look of knitting so I haven’t given up hope) I have mostly given up on anything which involves too much structure for success, but she does have fun when left to her own creative devices – which is really hard for me, because I just want to ‘help’ her to make ‘something’. I wasn’t sure how this cake was going to go, but I was pleasantly surprised at her focus (and how much of the decorations made it onto the cake and how little she actually tried to eat). I was proud of myself too for keeping my guidance purely to the hygiene issues (don’t put that on the cake after it’s been in your mouth/in your ear etc) EVEN when she started on the sprinkles.

finished toddler decorated cake

And it tasted nice too. Nanny Jo and Grandpop seemed to enjoy their slices and Grandpop even had seconds! That is good measure of cake success.

Happy Birthday Nanny Jo! xx

Summer days

This year is my first year since working in education that I actually get the school holidays- a whole 9 weeks off work! woweee!

I admit at first I was a little bit worried about how I would fill five days a week with Rose, but we seem to have effortlessly fallen into our new routine, and I am really enjoying my time off with her a lot.

This week we were hit with two scorching days which were really quite surprising, but we made the most of them by cracking out the (tiniest) paddling pool and heading to the seaside (which is handily just across the road from our house).

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Rose decided on the hottest day of the year that she would like to wear her winter hat and a pair of mismatched mittens… she also wore her apron out that day… there is no point arguing with her about these things as she is very determined and especially when decided what she wants to wear. I was a little bit worried about the woolly hat though in case she got heatstroke, but luckily she did give it up quite quickly when I pretended it didn’t bother me.

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We were really lucky to experience a funny little phenomenon at high tide, where the sea came under the stones, and filled up a perfect little paddling pool on the beach. It was so perfect, and stayed for about an hour before the tide went out again – plenty of time for good quality splashing by Rose, and perfect timing for us to go home for lunch and shelter from the hottest of the heat.

I already have that ‘I don’t want to go back to work’ feeling – but luckily we have quite a few weeks more fun ahead. Fingers crossed for more sunshine please. x

 

Wedding dressmaking 

I just wanted to share a little bit of dressmaking I did last month for my dear friends Lios and Phil’s wedding. I decided it would be nice for Rose and I to have something nice to wear to this occasion and found some really nice fabrics perfect for a summer wedding day.

As I currently have no waist, I decided to go for old faithful empire dress. I love this pattern even when not pregnant because it’s so comfortable and so perfect for any occasion that involves a meal!

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I really loved what I managed to achieve with Rose’s little dress pattern – especially how cute the easy fit design looked. So in a minor moment of madness – forgetting I am not a cute tiny toddler – I decided this time to alter my pattern slightly to give it a more easy fit feel too. I did this by sitting my pattern pieces away from the centre point of the fabric by about 15mm to make them a little wider. I then got a little nervous as realised this was overall quite a lot of extra width, and I panicked about the extra fabric and how it might fit under a cardigan, how much of a whale I might appear, etc etc, so I ended up trimming the same amount away from the outer edges. It was a bit of a wreckless risk as my fabric was quite a small piece really and there was no spares for recutting – but I very happily report that it came out so so well. I love it when that happens. I actually think I will make this alteration on all future versions of this dress – it really looks lovely.

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Rose’s dress was another version of the aforementioned easyfit empire style I made her previously. I added a little bit of lace trim to make it extra special though. And we were ready to go.

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The wedding was super fun. The evening party was on a boat which Rose loved – she really danced the night away and still talks about dancing on the boat. It was difficult for a while to explain we weren’t going on any more boats…

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Room for improvement

So I have been very very slack on my blogging activities – and any activities – recently and wanted to fill you in on some happy news that we are having a baby come and live with us! A boy baby! November is his estimated arrival time – just in time for Rose’s third birthday, but I’ve heard that boys are more likely to be late? I’ll let you know when he arrives – although do hope to be back before then. Although I really just keep forgetting what I’m meant to be doing most of the time despite my good intentions. And I fall asleep a lot too.

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In other news I am on summer holidays now, and we are doing some home improvements which is another distraction. I am preparing for a winter of hibernation (sort of – minus the sleep element). Every toddler free moment recently has been spent removing about three layers of fifty year old textured and painted wallpaper from our hallway, but we are making good progress now and we had fun with tester pots trying to decide on which shade of not-quite-white we wanted to use. Rose enjoyed this, although if she had her way we would be using ‘ra ra red’ (not tested).

It’s nice to be able to sit down in the evenings again. I might even pick up some knitting. And I have a month of Eastenders to catch up with too…

 

Picnic Cake

At the weekend we had a lovely meet up with friends. I loved this day. Our original plan was to have a picnic on the beach, but unfortunately the weather was not really right for a picnic, so we brought the party indoors and had a nice time all the same.

For the event I decided to make a savoury cake, as these are meant to be ideal picnic fare. I went through a little phase of making these before and really liked them.

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The recipe I used was a Rachel Khoo recipe. Her cooking is a bit french inspired which I like. I had previously tried this one for a prune, pistachio and cheese cake. This time I went for her more Mediterranean recipe crammed with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese and hazelnuts (that bit not so Mediterranean!)

i n g r e d i e n t s :

3 medium eggs
25g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt (I regretted adding this)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (I used normal paprika and it was still nice) 100ml buttermilk
150ml olive oil
100g sundried tomatoes
80g black olives
60g hazelnuts
1 medium courgette
100g soft goat’s cheese

sundried tomatoes and olives and hazelnutsIMG_3608

m e t h o d :

Start by preheating your oven to 180C and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. Beat the eggs and caster sugar together. Measure out your flour, salt (if using), baking powder and paprika in a separate bowl and then fold into the egg mixture. Measure out your buttermilk and olive oil and mix in. Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes, olives and hazelnuts and add to the batter. Coursely grate in the courgette and crumble in the goat’s cheese. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. You want it to have a lovely golden crust. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out. Et voila!

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Everyone seemed to really enjoy this cake, although for me it was too salty. I don’t normally add the salt in recipes, but for some reason decided I would this time, and I really wished I hadn’t. A lesson learnt! And the afternoon was full of all sorts of tasty treats and super company. I am hoping next time also we’ll have sunshine and then what a perfect time it will be!

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Jumping for joy beans

I am very pleased at the moment, after having been a little bit unobservant of my little kitchen windowsill garden, (although you can’t really see out the window anymore so really it is quite hard to miss) I have noticed that it’s making some grand progress. We’ve got a bean! A really big bean! (yes, just one of them) And tomatoes too! Such a happy feeling to see. I can’t wait for those to grow a little bit and maybe turn red.

tomatoes growing little beanbean in a kilner jar

The basil is a big success too – I recommend this a lot – such a lovely flavour in our pasta sauces – especially this time of year. On the road to self sufficiency?

Hooray for indoor gardens. x