Some Well-earned R&R

So the past few months have been hectic, what with getting married and some intense shift patterns. I’ve now finished my CBT for my PTSD, which is great but it’s quite daunting going it alone for now! As such, I’m really trying to make sure I engage in my self care.

Crochet, obviously, is one of my big hobbies and self care activities. I’ve managed to complete a couple of orders which is always really satisfying as well as a few projects for friends, family and myself! Now I’m focusing on making the cupcake blanket by Attic24. The beautiful colours and simplicity of the pattern are great as I don’t have to think too much about what I’m doing. Fantastic for hooking infront of the telly or on my break at work!

Jim and I have managed to sort out most of the house so things are more ordered and tidy. We’ve also had more people round and been out more. 

I’ve also been participating in a book exchange through a friend. I sent off one of my favourite books to another participant (The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen if you’re interested) and am eagerly awaiting any books that might come my way. I’ve also ordered Perfume by Patrick Suskind and Animalium which is a nonfiction book about various animals. I’m looking forward to reading all of them and the books I might receive in the exchange. 

The next couple of months will be busy. September is looming meaning boom time as a midwife as well as several family birthdays (including my own). But it will also be interesting to see what I can accomplish and enjoy too! Hopefully I’ll get around to designing some more crochet patterns (I’m thinking maybe a scarf…) and posting about all the delicious new books I’m going to read. Watch this space!

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Herb alchemy

Over the last few months, I have been cultivating a select group of herbs in little pots in my garden. They have sprouting from little plantlings I bought from the garden centre into gargantuan bushes that are now beginning to outgrow their terracotta homes.

Every day, I go out and see if any of my plants could be pruned a little. When I do take cuttings, I like them to be useful. Some, like my oregano, go into foods like pastas sauces and on top of pizzas. However, with my pineapple sage and various mint plants, I like to do something different.

Now, being married to a northerner, tea is something that features a lot in our lives. I have never been a massive tea drinker, preferring to reserve it for truly horrendous night shifts most of the time. Jim and I have recently been trying to get me into drinking tea more. We love the more fruity teas acquired from visits to the Bluewater T2 store but no tea tastes quite as sweet as that grown yourself.

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My black peppermint and curled spearmint leaves in the process of drying

My mint plants inevitably end up soaking in boiled water to make my tea, sometimes with a dash of honey if I’ve managed to prune a particularly bitter stem. However I do also dry out the leave and then store them. I’ve yet to try my dried leaves so it will be good fun to see what they are like soon.

Does anyone out there also grow herbs for tea? What do you recommend as good herbs to try?

Making crocheted ribbon

When I gift people their blankets or send out my orders, I like them to look their best. Recently, I’ve taken to using ribbon to tie them up securely so they are beautifully presented and easy to transport. So today, I finished a blanket for a friend but found, to my horror, that I was out of ribbon! After a small moment of panic, I composed myself and turned my mind to the solution: I am  crafter, why not make the ribbon myself?

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Using a Tunisian crochet, I whipped up this little beauty. I’m quite new to Tunisian crochet so I am very pleased with how this turned out.

To make this ribbon, you will need:
– 2mm crochet hook (an ordinary hook will be fine for this piece)
– DK yarn of your choosing
– a tapestry needle to weave in the ends

(You could use a different hook or yarn size if you, but the gauge will be different. My ribbon measured approximately an inch across)

Abbreviations

Yo- yarn over
Ch- chain
F- Forward row
R- Return row

Pattern

(US terms)

Chain seven.

R1: F- starting with the second chain from the hook, pull up a loop in each chain across. You should have 7 loops on your hook.
R- (Tunisian simple stitch). Yo, pull through one loop. Repeat *yo, pull through 2 loops* until you’re left with one loop on the hook.

R2: F- Pass hook through the vertical post of yarn and draw up a loop from each across. (7 loops on hook)
R- Yo, pull through one loop. Ch2. Yo and pull through six loops. Ch2. Yo and pull through the last two loops.

R3: F- Draw up a loop from each of the two chains from the previous row, draw one up from the centre of the “shell” (where you drew through the six loops), then draw up another loop from each of the next two chains and one from the vertical post at the end of the last row. (7 loops on hook)
R- (Tunisian simple stitch) Yo, pull through one loop. Repeat *yo, pull through 2 loops* until you’re left with one loop on the hook.

Repeat R2&3 until the ribbon is the desired length. Do one last row of R2 the cast of by draw up each loop and then pulling through the previous loop on the hook. Weave in ends.

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Mandala Meditation

Yesterday, I made my first ever mandala. Having never made one before, I’m glad to say that I not only enjoyed the creating process but also found it meditative and therapeutic.

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Which comes to the reason I even decided to make a mandala in the first place. Recently, a member or the crochet community sadly lost her battle against depression. During her life, and especially the last few years, she shared so much of her creativity and passion for crochet. She designed and shared several mandala patterns via her blog A Creative Being and in tribute to Marinke another blogger is hosting #MandalasforMarinke . The idea is to gather mandalas from around the globe and display them in memory of Marinke. For more information, visit Crochet Concupiscence

This mandala symbolises many things. For the wider crochet community, it is a contribution to the amazing talent of a wonderfully creative woman. It’s also a small piece in a global collaboration, ignoring many boundaries, geographically, ethnic, philosophical and more. It helps to raise the profile of mental illnesses and the impact they can have of the lives of suffers. More personally, it represents a new creative outlet for me and a way to further combine my love of crochet with my need to de-stress and meditate. And in this busy and stressful world, who doesn’t need something like that?

RIP Marinke.

How to do Creative Maths

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When I was at primary school, I used to love graph and squared paper. After finishing our maths problems the teacher would give us any spare paper and some colouring pens and tell us to colour in the squares however we wanted. I used to love creating intricate patterns on my paper and also recreating what I now know as pixel art.

Moving forward fifteen years (give or take) and I now use those skills when designing my own crochet patterns. So far I’ve only designed blankets but using square paper helps me to think out my design process.

So here I come to my latest design that I’m planning to turn into a Crochet Along (CAL for short). So far it is currently known as the Eight Flower Garden Blanket though this is a working title only. Hopefully, once I’ve designed and tested it, I’ll be able to post it for everyone to enjoy. For now though, it is just a few squares drawn on a piece of paper.

Blowing Glass

So today we arrived in the Isle of Wight. My fiancé and I, accompanied by my brother and a close friend, are here to do a memorial walk in aid of our friend Charlie who passed away in 2013. Tomorrow we start our five day trek around the coastal path but today we decided to relax and make the most of the sun (especially as it was tipping it down this morning).

Were staying with my dad whilst over here and his house is only a few minutes drive from Alum Bay so we decided to go down and watch the glass making.

The glass making here is absolutely magical. They do demonstrations and today we watched them make two beautiful, iridescent vases and a load of incredibly delicate posed swans. The craftsmanship that goes into making these things is immense. I’ve been watching these guys make things since I was little and it still captivates me every time. Maybe one day I’ll learn how sculpt glass.

As you can expect, the gift shop is chock full of the most intricate and perfectly designed pieces (most have a lovely price tag too but that’s to be expected from such amazing work). If we get a chance over the next fortnight, I’ll go back and acquire myself another glittery little trinket.

And so tomorrow, the walk begins! We have blister plasters and energising snacks a plenty, not to mention a lot of suncream. If anyone would like to sponsor us, please  click here.

You can find Alum Bay Glass here if you want to find out more or go and see them.

http://www.alumbayglass.co.uk/

Let’s network- add your blog here.

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Hello everyone!

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