Tales of Trying to Reconnect with the more Simple Things in Life, through Crafting, Cooking and Learning.

Introducing Lama Croft – Stashraider…..

To the untrained eye, she may appear demure and inactive…. BUT BEWARE:

She is an expert musician (having trained at the Royal Lamacademy of Music);

Piano-Playing Lama

 Highly familiar with modern technology…

Lama Phone

and extremely well-read:

Lama book

Her stealth knows no bounds:

Lama stealth

and she is always willing to make forge new friendships for the sake of inter-galactic peace:

Lama hug

Just when you think you know her capabilities….

Lama chess

Out come the big guns:

Lama chess 2

She is Lama Croft, StashRaider!!!!


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Frustration and Excitement

You see, I was really excited about posting today, since I’m still awfully fired up about knitting possibilities; but that was until I tried to upload the photos onto my computer.

*&^%^&^^%!!!!! is the most polite expression I can come up with, to express the frustration I’m currently aiming towards this hunk of so-called technology in front of me.

Breathe….. and again…..

OK, got that out of my system (for now. Of course, it all depends on whether I can now get the pics up into WordPress….).

As I mentioned yesterday, last night was all set for a good-knit-night:

Knitting Heaven

Has anyone seen “Cowboys and Aliens”?  It’s a piece of pants cinema movie with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford (cinematic royalty), so I really thought we were in for a good evening’s entertainment/knitting.  Hmmmm.  Note to self (and film producer) – mixing cowboys with aliens doesn’t work!!!  The whole thing was entirely bizarre, and I have to confess that we didn’t manage to last the whole film.  Sorry Harrison.

That aside, I got on well with both the lama and Wurm.  In fact, I’m so infatuated with Wurm that I continued to knit it long after Gary had gone to bed.  It kept luring me on with promises like “just one more colour stripe, then you can stop” and “the quicker you finish me, the quicker you can wear me”.  Anyway, pleased to say I was able to adopt some semblence of self-discipline and put it away until today, when I have got excited all over again!  As I sit there knitting it I just have great ideas for a matching scarf, matching fingerless gloves … you name it.  Thank goodness I’ve got a sack full of the felted tweed!  It’s highly likely that the hat will be finished tonight (we’re tackling “Super 8” tonight, so hopefully a bit better luck with this one) so, camera/computer permitting, I’ll post a pic tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are some pics of some of my recently finished projects (again, please forgive picture quality):

Tortoise and Hare gauntlets.  Pattern by Kate Davies (who else?!)

Tortoise and Hare gauntlets. Pattern by Kate Davies (who else?!)

Just drawing your attention to the Vikkel Braids around the wrist - a first for me!

Just drawing your attention to the Vikkel Braids around the wrist – a first for me!

SAM_0432 SAM_0435

The cream project is an on-going one – a crochet scarf in a lovely rich, cream organic cotton worsted.  I have a mind to sew some little clear Swarovski crystals into the pattern once I have finished it – depends on how patient I feel!  The blanket on the left (for which the pic doesn’t really do justice) is a Heritage Crochet Sampler lap blanket, by Coats Crafts (I think I got the pattern free from Ravelry).  I knit this with Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester Aran yarn and it is absolutely gorgeous.  I learned several new crochet stitches into the bargain (one of which I chose to use for the scarf ) and fell completely in love with BFL wool!

Fingers crossed, it would seem that the computer has redemmed itself somewhat by rendering a fairly trouble-free ten minutes of posting.  Yay! But I’m not pushing my luck….

You’ll have to excuse me now – I’ve got a date with a Wurm!!

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Today I am inspired to create.

I have been so good since Christmas and have been working through one or two projects I had promised myself I would finish; and this week, I finished the two biggest ones (will post pics tomorrow), and hence have given myself permission to succumb to a massive bout of startitis!

I already have “Snawheid” on the go – a lovely beanie by Kate Davies – but I found “Wurm”, (by and fell instantly in love.  As I am on a self-imposed yarn diet I didn’t even consider buying any yarn, but reached straight for my (rather large) bag of Rowan Felted Tweed DK, and cast on….

WurmIt took a bit longer than one would imagine, to get to this point, since the “brim” of the hat is doubled-over knitting (ie two lots of 12 rows doubled over onto themselves and then knit together).  This does give it a lovely “meaty” feel though, and I’m now onto the straightforward job of knit 5, purl 4 through to the crown decreases.  A good movie tonight should help me move forward on that!  I was going to just use to the two colours shown, but have now decided each group of knit/purl will be a different colour…  More tomorrow on that one!

At Christmas a good friend made me a gift of “Kmitted Farm Animals” (by Sarah Keen), so today saw the birth of the lama!  I thought it quite appropriate that I use Artesano Alpaca yarn for this project – I’m not being super extravagent, it’s just that I had some left over from Hannah’s Christmas sweater and thought a woolly lama would be a suitable “home” for it.  Here is the lama as of this moment in time….








So that’s it for now – typically, as soon as I started to try to compose this post my 17-year old son came in and, for once, decided he wanted to chat – sigh – so now tea is ready and I have to take my leave.

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A Sigh of Relief!

The past five days have been exceedingly busy, as Hannah was due to be singing in a concert today with her choir (named Rapport).  The days have been full of rehearsals – for us both, as I have the job of page-turning for the accompanists – as well as me finding myself volunteering to get t-shirts printed for the 13 members of the choir (decided the day before the concert, incidentally – nothing like leaving everything to the last minute!).

Anyway, the day was today and the lunchtime concert went extremely well; the audience was very appreciative of the choir’s efforts, and there was an added bonus of some solos from the choir leader (and singing teacher) who sings professionally.  As I have said before, it may appear that I am biased, but I am actually Hannah’s greatest critic – I have a musical background so am able to listen to her quite critically – and Hannah surely sang beautifully.  She and a fellow student sang the duet “Cantique de Noel” (O Holy Night) and it gave me and the audience (so I was told afterwards) goosebumps!  In fact I was so entranced that I had to make a special effort to remember to turn the pages for the pianist!


Well done Rapport!


Craftwise, then, I haven’t had a lot of time for creating anything other than a mess this week, although I finally managed to finish my crochet bag.  I had decided a week or so ago to be really good and try to use some yarn from my stash to make something interesting, and I settled on the crochet bag featured in Lucy’s blog over at Attic24.  I even went so far as to stiffen the edges with heavy-weight interface and then line the inside with some beautiful fabric (confession – I DID buy that new!).  It took a bit of fiddling to put it together, but I think the drawstring ribbon just gently easing in the top of the bag adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the design …. !


I had several odd balls of Amy Butler’s Belle Organic Aran (Rowan) so I mostly used those.  I was really pleased how the colours turned out, especially as it was hit (the stash) and miss.








Not a particularly good photograph of the lining, but it is just so lovely that I couldn’t not post it!

Finally, as I had the sewing machine out last night, Joe nabbed me to shorten his track suit trousers (they’re not actually track suit trousers per se – just soft, sweatshirt material pull-ons, but I don’t know what else to call them).  It occurred to me that the stress of any of my other sewing/crafting jobs dramatically paled into insignificance in comparison to the pressure I felt when cutting his beloved Superdry trousers!!!!


Fortunately both the trousers and I escaped relatively unscathed, and I am ready to craft another day!








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“Super Saturday!”

My project of the last week has been a little challenging.  So much so that at one point I was about to throw the towel in, and toss it into the back of the knitting cupboard and try to forget about it….  However, the “don’t give up” angels were clearly flying around my shoulders and I perservered, so can now happily introduce the (I think) aptly named OLYMPIA:

I hope the verdict is favourable, because I’m actually quite pleased with her!









She now sits proudly on my bedstead, together with Jenny Hen and Olive Owl (don’t know how many more I can sneak onto that before Gary starts complaining!).

The pattern is from “Knit and Purl Pets” by Claire Garland and the book does contain a whole lot of other very tempting patterns.  Hmmmmm – may have to give myself some time to recover from knitting this one before I tackle any more four legged friends!

Yesterday morning was a fairly free time for me, so Mum and I visited the Sussex Guild Craft Fayre.  Michelham Priory is such a beautiful setting, and the sun was kind enough to shine, so we had a very pleasant few hours admiring local artisans’ skills and walking round the grounds:




















It was really lovely, and all the people we met and spoke to were very friendly and keen to talk about their particular craft.




And of course, what else can I say about Saturday, apart from GO TEAM GB!!!!  I apologise to anyone who may be reading this who is not of these isles, but the sense of excitement throughout the whole country is just amazing, and yesterday was just the icing on the cake (so far).  I must confess that I was a bit ambivalent about the whole London 2012 thing, as it had been built up so much over the past few years, but it has been just fantastic, and the organisers have done themselves proud, as have all those taking part, from whatever country.

I’m off now to a choir rehearsal for Hannah (I have the estimable job of page-turning for the pianist!), then this evening I hope to start knitting some squares for a charity blanket project whilst catching up with the latest Olympic goings-on.




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Here be monsters …

Although it’s the summer holidays (even for us home-schoolers!) I am progressing my literary pursuits by reading Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.  I have to say that it’s not at all what I expected, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I knew very little about the actual story – apart from the obvious existence of a man-created monster (whom I mistakenly thought was called Frankenstein) – so came to the book purely on the recommendation of a friend.  Just as I was surprised by Tolstoy, I have been surprised by the readability (?is that a word) of this book.   It’s the sort of book than can be read on a purely story level, or on a much deeper, creator vs created one, and I would urge anyone who is interested in good literature to give it a go.  I am about two-thirds of the way through and am still undecided as to whether I am on the side of the creator or the created!

(Incidentally, I did finally manage to finish “Middlemarch” but, although it got notably better towards the latter half of the book, I would hesitate to recomend it as a gripping read….)

I don’t know whether it’s because of what I’m reading, but I have had the urge of late to knit/make monsters!  I have procured Donna Wilsons “The Knitted Odd-Bod Bunch” which is fantastic, but with my new-found enthusiasm I decided it was time to cuddle-cycle again!  Out came one of Hannah’s old teeshirts (this particular monster was going to be for her anyway), and “Hollister Hug” came forth:

I may be biased, but I think she’s rather gorgeous, and Hannah loves her to bits already!

There is one other, more conventional creature in the making, but I’m not yet ready to unveil her…



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New Friends

A few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and, in usual inimitable CCG style, Jen came forth with a most fab pressie:

Not only is this a wonderful gift in it’s own right, but it has been hand-made by my very good friend from a tunic I had given her for her daughter.  It was one from the White Stuff (which I love) and I’d had a good couple of years’ wear from it before I carelessly lobbed it into a normal wash cycle in my machine.  Needless to say it came out a little too small for me to wear again!  I’m really tickled that Jen used it for crafting, as well as the red material being provided from the CCG January socks (which she had already worn through…).

So it was with this in mind that I had stored up some old winter sweaters just in case I ever wanted to create something – and today was the day!  Here is what materialised:


She is just so sweet!  The eyes were the original buttons from the jacket I used, so nothing was going to waste.  I’ve decided to coin a phrase “cuddle-cycled” instead of recycled, since so many people are making such gorgeous cuddlies with old clothes it deserves it’s own classification!


Here are Jenny Hen and Olive Owl, sitting happily together on my bed-head:







Oh, and as promised, the book which has the pattern for the tiny teddies is “Microcrafts” (compiled by McGuire, Kachmar, Hatz and friends); the tiny knitting and crochet projects are from “Mochimochi” (Anna Hrachovec) and “teenytiny Crochet” (Catherine Hirst) respectively.

Ta-ta for now!

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As Time Goes By ….

Dear Blog

I’m so sorry I left you for so long – it’s just that, well, “life” happened.  But take heart, as I now have a nice computer and a (working) camera, so I thought I might bring you up to date with the latest crafting action!

After a couple of month’s of focussed grafting, I succeeded in completing Kate Davies’ “Rams and Yowes” lap blanket – steek and all!  It was probably the largest project I have undertaken (even including the poncho), and potentially quite risky, as I had never tackled a steek before.  Now the blanket isn’t perfect…. but then neither am I, so I can’t complain!  However I am genuinely pleased with it and, somewhat optimistically, asked Hannah to pose with it in the garden for some arty photos:

Clearly she wasn’t going to take her task terribly seriously…




But you get the idea.





Last week, as a reaction to finishing the blanket, I fell madly in love with the idea of knitting/crocheting miniatures, which fitted in suitably well with the wreath I had recently made:




I just love these little minis, even if I did manage to snap two wooden dpns when knitting the chickens!







And today saw a great meeting of the CCG with Jen, in which we pursued the theme of minis:


Tiny teddies in matchbox beds, with teensy-tiny knitted blankets!





Supreme cuteness!




I’ll put up the details of the books/designers of these projects next time, but for now I’ll sign off as I want to go and watch Team GB hopefully win some gold medals at the swimming!

Promise I won’t leave it so long next time…

With love

Auntie Boo  x



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Anyone for a Cuppa?


Well, despite the grim weather today, and the huge amount of homeschooling we had to get through, I was determined to get some form of gardening done. Jen and I had spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon discussing gardens and plants, and ogling over the Sarah Raven catalogue, so I was all fired up and raring to go!

With the garden doing it’s best to become the latest wildfowl and wetland sanctuary it would have been foolish to attempt anything much, so I decided to plant my newly purchased herbs in my rather wonderful teacup (a Christmas pressie from my Mum and Dad). I think it looks great, and the oregano, purple sage, garlic chives and thyme should see me through until I can get some more growing from seed.

…and just to confirm their belief in the circle of life, the dogs kindly pulled up and massacred the last remaining heuchera as I was doing my planting.

“Oh well….”

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All That Glitters….

Yesterday we celebrated our parents’ Golden Wedding anniversary. 

50 years married.

That’s some commitment.

50 year’s ago:

=>  Elvis Presley was at number one this week in the record charts with “Rock-A-Hula Baby/Can’t Help Falling in Love” (and remained at number one for the next three weeks);

=>  Harold Macmillan of the Conservative Party was Prime Minister;

=>  The British Motor Corporation launched the ADO16 – the Morris 1100 – on 15 August;

=>  Earlier in the year BBC Television broadcast the first episode of a their “realistic police drama” called “Z-Cars”;

=>  There was a military coup d’etat in Burma; 

=>  President John F Kennedy was in The White House;

=>  Jon Bon Jovi was born;

=>  The UK made a claim to 660,000 square miles of land which they called “British Antarctic Territory”.

Back to yesterday, though, Mum and Dad took all us kids together with their lifelong friends (hello Auntie Liz and Uncle Ray!) for a posh nosh.

We presented Mum and Dad with “Olympic” gold medals and a Certificate of Achievement in recognition of their 50 years together!

Charlotte (eldest grandchild) had used her PhotoShop skills to slightly “edit” an original wedding photograph (clue: four of the heads in this picture weren’t even a twinkle in their as yet unborn parents’ eyes 50 years ago!).





No, not a gold tombola, but a “Gold Hamper” which Mum and Dad opened in the Hotel lounge bar (much to the amusement of other guests!).






Joe and Hannah enjoyed the occasion…








… but it went on a bit late for Hannah!!! (aaaahhh!)




It was a great way to celebrate a very special occasion, and it certainly gives me and my sister something to aspire to!


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