Into the Woods


A sunny day greeted us on Friday, far too good to stay inside. I packed a snack and my cameras and we headed out for a walk. Not to the park this time, but through the town, past the church, across the road and over the bridge. Along the canal path behind the castle, under the tall trees, stopping to look at the flowers and the noisy overspill water pipes, the yellow wagtails hopping from stone to stone in the water and the crows cawing overhead. My boy is still taken with birds (and the noisy water) and gleefully points them out as they pass by. We walk on, slowing to allow passing walkers the chance to go on ahead (and out of my camera range).

Two swifts are fighting in the water, and there is brief excitement for TTB as a dog comes past close to his pushchair. We reach the end of the canal path, past the Secret Garden door, and turn to manoeuvre the pushchair backwards over the bridge and heave-bump-heave it up the deep and uneven stone steps. Shall we go and see the chickens now … or shall we go into the woods and have our snack by the big pond? It’s still early in the day and we have nowhere that we need to be.

Open the gate, past the holiday cottages, have a go at some close up flower photos. Around the muddy bit, through the next gate and aaaaaah … into the woods. The trees are not yet in leaf and it’s much more open than it will be soon. There are tips of green on the ends of the branches and tightly furled buds too. The trees are waking up. The wild garlic (not yet flowering) carpets the ground as far away as you can see. The small stream to the left lays still as always, but down the steep drop to the right the larger stream is flowing quickly over the rocks. Look UP! I say to TTB. Look up at the trees! He doesn’t, because he doesn’t know what “up” means and there are no birds or snacks in the “up” direction.

After avoiding a fast running man shouting at his son to keep up with him, and a very muddy and wet dog, we reach the pond but  find that we are not the only people to have had this idea, and all the space is occupied. We loiter a little and I practise with my camera while TTB is mesmerised by the waterfall.  Heading back, we stop at a bench and TTB enjoys his snack: raisins and malt load and a long drink of water. Back down the slope, through the gate, look up and there is a beautiful canopy of tiny leaves, green from one tree and bright red from another. The sunlight shines through them and it is stunning.

Past the holiday cottages again, through the second gate, past the beautiful cottage garden with the raised vegetable beds and around to the right, heading towards the chickens. A female chaffinch lands on the path in front of us and we watch as she scratches in the ground, edging quietly closer (one of us needs to practise being quiet on command and this is a good opportunity as it involves a bird and thus his interest.)

At last, chickens! I park the pushchair and lift TTB out so that he can see as the chicken enclosure is above my shoulder height. He is entranced and makes his chicken noise (an attempt at cockadoodle doo crossed with cuckoo) at them. The come up to the fence and eyeball this strange small noisy person. In the background: chicks! Two fluffy yellow leggy bundles, staying close to mum.

After a brief “not going back in the pushchair” standoff (I win) we continue our journey, looking at the trees and the birds (a bullfinch!) and gaze longingly up the road to The Hill (not accessible with the pushchair) and ahead over the town to the other hills on the horizon. Sometimes I still can’t quite believe that this is my home, but it is and for that I am truly glad.

Boy Colours

I like to make blankets for other people, and I especially like to make sure that any babies that are born receive a little blanket gift. I have only missed a couple of friend’s babies, I think, and that was because I had a newborn of my own.

I’m most comfortable working with a large selection of bright “rainbowy” colours, as you’ve probably seen from my projects page. These are particularly good for when people don’t want to find out whether they are having a boy or a girl: can’t go wrong with a rainbow ripple!

Sometimes though I do like to make blankets that are “boy colours” or “girl colours” (as much as I dislike colour “rules” and the idea that colours are limited by gender, you know what I mean by “boy colours”). The Pink Daisies Blanket, and the Boaty Blanket, and the Honey and Roses Blanket are examples of this.

Stylecraft recently released four new colours in their Special DK range, a lovely orange (FINALLY) called Spice and a gorgeous deep blue teal called Petrol. I really wanted to incorporate these into the blanket I intended to make for the newest baby in Andy’s family. My first instinct was to use it as part of the colour combo in the photo above: Petrol, Cream, Parchment, Camel, Cloud Blue, Spice and then whatever that brown one is called. Walnut? Dark Brown? I can’t remember.

Unfortunately my first attempt at using them was shockingly horrific and I’m a bit embarrassed to even show you the photo! It’s like some awful awful remnant from the seventies.

Subsequent ideas using these colours were also big fat ugly failures.

I tried a different combination, swapping the brown for the green “Meadow”. I liked this incarnation more, but the friends I discussed it with didn’t really think it worked. By this point I had been thinking about the colours so much I couldn’t even tell what looked nice anymore!

Then I thought, perhaps I will do a blanket of just five colours and repeat them only once, with big blocks of colour a bit like this blanket by the Purl Bee that floats around Pinterest every so often.

But then when I tested this idea, all I could think of was the French flag!

I tried out all of these colour combinations but none of them really clicked for me. The bottom left had potential though, which led me to the colours I actually used:

Petrol, Aspen, Sherbet, Denim, Parchment and Spice.

Just a little blanket, perfect for the car or in the pram. 30 squares using the Elmer Squares pattern, joined using this method and then the border is made from two rounds of Aspen (UK treble stitches) and one round of Petrol (UK double stitches) in the back loops only. It’s suffering a bit from curly edges, this can be rectified by steam blocking it with an iron as per the instructions in this post here (near the end.) I haven’t done this yet though!

I wanted to take some beautiful photos of this blanket but the weather and light quality has been awful here lately, and I need to get this posted off soon, so these photos will have to do. (Annoyingly, the best light in the house is in TTB’s bedroom, but as I can only take photos of crochet projects during naptime I can’t take them in his room!)

I’m really pleased with the colours I decided on in the end. A couple of friends commented about the placement of the squares, and how they couldn’t have made it themselves and kept two oranges in the same column, or had the “denim/petrol/denim” together on that bottom row. Personally, I think that with a small blanket and a small palette you are limited in the number of ways you can arrange the squares without it looking like a pattern. I wanted it to look random and the decision to put two oranges in the same column was deliberate. Anyway, I’m happy with it and hopefully it’s new owner will be too.

Oh and because someone usually asks, I used a 4mm hook because it’s dk weight yarn. You can buy Stylecraft Special dk in a number of places online, such as The Homemakery and Wool Warehouse. I’m lucky and buy mine in my LYS :)

One Nice Moment

I looked back over my photos this evening and realised that there were virtually no bloggable photos. Surely I’ve been doing THINGS? Well, we have, but most of them revolve around teaching a small boy to sleep in his bed and not on me. And that’s really boring.

I have been working on my ripple though, after a couple of weeks break to make a little blanket for a new baby cousin. Ok so I suppose I have been doing something, but I haven’t taken any photos on anything other than my ipad and the camera isn’t great on that. There’s something to aim for this week then!

Working on a ripple is very therapeutic and it’s easy and robust enough to pick up and put down around my other important tasks of catering to the random play/toy whims of TTB. It’s funny how specific he is about where he wants his toys to go, like getting all of the duplo people (and the lion!) into the duplo truck at the same time. The rows are long enough too that I can just grab a ball of yarn, the blanket itself and a hook and it’s enough to last for a while. I like making blankets like this rather than with lots of squares as I find it quicker to work a long row than a square, and you don’t have to store lots of little bits while you are making the rest of them. I DO like joining squares up though, that bit is satisfying.

So yes. One nice moment from the last few days: sitting and rippling in the sunshine of TTB’s bedroom while he amused himself with his toys. He is so used to me doing bits of crochet here and there now that he just ignores it and doesn’t try to grab the yarn. Reading that back it makes me seem like all I do is sit and crochet and ignore him – that’s not quite the case as he is very happy doing independent play and often just requires supervision rather than involvement from me. If you’d have told me that when he was a small baby I never would have believed you!

Right, it’s Sunday night and I still need to go and wash up. I will aim to take more photos this week!