Mug Cosy Completed!

I finished the mug cosy! It took a little longer than I thought, but at least I finished it before the work secret santa deadline.

So, at the end of my last post, there wasn’t very much to it at all. However, what little there was got ripped back to the foundation chain, and then the next attempt ripped back once more before I finally got going. On the plus side, I now understand a lot better how to find the loop to push the hook through to get it under both foundation chain loops. :) I still missed three of them out of the 37, but nevermind.

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This is where I got to by the end of Wednesday night. Most of this was done whilst listening/watching Peter play “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” and Rob play “Orcs Must Die“. Amnesia is much more horrific when just listening to it rather than paying it full attention. I didn’t actually think that was possible. :S Also, I’m going to continue to link to Peter’s blog whenever I mention him in an effort to make him update it. ;)

Next stage, add a border and a button. This was more difficult than it seems, as I decided to divert from the pattern to add a button strap. The pattern (from Let’s Get Crafting Iss 35, Knit and Crochet Christmas) originally called for two buttons, one in each corner, but this seems to me to be a flawed solution as it only works on certain handle types. I ended up adding a four stitch wide button strap using treble crochet stitches, but skipping one of the middle stitches to make a hole wide enough for a button, and doing two trebles in one of the side stitches to make up for the skipped stitch. This made it a bit lopsided – next time I’ll use three or five stitches.

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This shot shows you the button holes, and also the lopsidedness of the strap. :( The side with the two trebles in one stitch looks a lot neater.

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I also had some trouble with the button, as I wanted to use the border yarn to sew it on with. However, this is what happened when I introduced my yarn needle to the button:

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This was circumvented in the following way with a helpful suggestion from Rob:

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I had to tie the knots in the thread though. Very fiddly! And that was Thursday night taken up. Anyway, to finish it off, yesterday I made up a crochet leaf pattern and today I made four leaves and sewed them to the cosy:

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And yes, the Old Peculier is mine in the above photo. Well, strictly it’s Rob’s Dad’s, but I stole it MWAHAHAHAHAHAHARRRR!!!

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Finito! If anyone’s curious, my crochet leaf pattern is very simple and is as follows:

Chain 11

Do the following down the chain:

Slip stitch in the 2nd chain from hook (going under both loops in all these, naturally ;) )
Double crochet in next chain
Half Treble in next chain
Treble in next chain
Double Treble in next two chains
Treble in next chain
Half Treble in next chain
Double crochet in next chain
Slip stitch in next chain
Chain 1

Do the following back up the chain, on the other side to the previous stitches:

Double crochet in same chain as the last double crochet you did.
Half Treble in next chain, again, in the same loop as the previous HTr
Treble in next chain
Double Treble in next two chains
Treble in next chain
Half Treble in next chain
Double crochet in next chain
Slip stitch in next chain
Slip stitch to the tip of the leaf and fasten off, leaving about 12″ of yarn for sewing to whatever you’re going to sew it to.

And there, my first pattern! Probably very similar to many other leaf patterns, but if so that’s purely coincidental (and come on, it’s a simple oval leaf shape, there’s only so many ways you can come up with to make the same shape). My first attempt only had one double treble in the centre and ended up looking like a diamond/rhombus, so if you want to make one of those, then do as above but only ch 10 and don’t do one of the double trebles. ;)

Haha! My first pattern! I’m so chuffed. :D

First completed piece of knitting!

I finally finished the face flannel I started about a year ago!

Face flannel 1

Face Flannel 1

This is my first piece of “proper” knitting, after the two fashion scarves I made ages and ages ago (Katia Ondas one ball one scarf projects, one for Mum and one for Rob’s Mum). They don’t really count though as tension doesn’t matter at all, and you can rattle one off without knowing anything much about knitting at all (I didn’t then anyway). Anyway, I digress. The flannel pattern was taken off About.com’s easy knitting patterns for beginners and is the Stockinette Stitch Washcloth one, using Wendy Supreme Cotton DK in 1901 “Surf”.

Despite its slightly trapezoidal nature and a small disastrous section of moss stitch border, I’m quite pleased with the flannel overall. It could be much worse! I’m just glad it’s finished. It sat on the needles untouched for about 8 months (coincidentally or not just after the disastrous section of border) and I thought, “come on, let’s just finish this and start summat else”. So I decided I didn’t care if it wasn’t quite long enough to be square, and just did four rows to finish off the border. I then encountered casting off, and how easy it is to drop a stitch whilst casting off, but nevermind.

So, to the next item! My current WIP is a mug cosy for someone at work in the secret santa. We had a budget to spend of £1. So far, I have spent 5p on a button. I might spend the other 95p on sweets or something.

Mug Cosy 1

It uses treble stitches (a new stitch for me) along with two strands of yarn at the same time (another first) and it’s taking me far longer to do than I thought due to the difficulty of getting the (rather blunt) 5.5mm hook to go under both chain loops for each stitch. Still, it’s going ok, and when I look at it now it reminds me of mint chocolate ice cream. Om nom nom!

Finally, have some pretty photos of the frost feathers on Gladys’ roof the other morning:

Car roof frost 1

Car roof frost 2

Creating a vegetable patch (part 2)

Carrying on from the last post, by about midday on the Sunday (20th Nov), I’d de-weeded and to a certain extent de-rubbled the soon-to-be-vegetable patch. At this point I rang my Dad to ask for some advice, as he recently created his own vegetable patch. The advice was this:

Now you want to dig down about 2 spade’s depths and fill it with loads of compost.

Sound advice and all that, but I did look at my neatly levelled patch of earth and cry a little inside. Nevermind! If that’s what needs to be done, then so be it. Let the trench digging commence!

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By sundown of Sunday, I’d dug out an area the width and length of the dug area of the photo above (so about 2/3 of the weeded patch) and about 1.25 spade’s depths. I’d also found even more rubble, along with a steel coathanger, a 10mm/13mm combination spanner and a silver spoon. Not quite time team, but better than nowt. The photo of this stage was far too blurry (my camera refused to focus in the dim twilight) so here’s a photo of the excavated spoil:

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I was quite proud of my trench. I thought it was really good going for about three hours solid toil. Fast forward to the next weekend, and my Dad and my Uncle Stephen dropped by on their way to the football, delivering 6 tubtrugs as my Christmas present from Mum. Were they impressed by my efforts? Hah.

Yep, good start, but you need to be at least another spade’s depth down before you do anything else. Also, I thought it’d be bigger than that.

Yeah, that’s what she said. Ahem. Anyway, my good friends Phil and Andy S were helping myself and Rob out that day, and Phil kindly said he’d have a go at finding Australia via the bottom of my trench. Andy went off to help Rob patch the ceiling hole (more on that another time). By the end of Sunday, the trench was now the regulatory 2 spades deep and half again as wide.

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Note that by this time I still hadn’t managed to plant anything (still haven’t planted most of it :( ). I originally reckoned I’d have this whole thing finished in one weekend, and now two had passed. So, another week rolled by. The next weekend was a long one as I needed to use up some leave, and my Dad visited again on Friday, this time as helper rather than to pass witty comment on my feeble efforts. First thing, fill the hole Phil and I had spent so much time creating in the first place. Makes you wonder why we bothered. ;)

In went compost, random garden waste (old hedge clippings, fallen leaves and suchlike), shredded cardboard and leaf ash from my Dad’s incinerator, to add nutrients and improve moisture retention. Much forking and mixing through ensued.

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Hi Dad! Also, remember the compost pile? It is no longer.

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In went some of the original soil from the spoil heap (now nicely de-rubbled) and 300 litres of multipurpose compost. More forking and mixing. Then, a quick bit of work with the rake and you have this:

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Finally! One new vegetable patch! Woohoo! Still nothing planted though. I had bought Rob a Timperley Early rhubarb plant about 5 weeks ago (when the confidance that I’d get all this done in a weekend was brimming) so we decided to plant that in the far corner. There we discovered the last remaining piece of concrete path in the garden, which was swiftly removed with a large crowbar and a pickaxe. Fortunately the concrete was about 80 years old and very soft, so was a much easier task than it could’ve been. Double woohoo! 1 plant finally in the soil! Only several hundred left to go! I say several hundred, this does include the last remaining bulbs and 50 onion sets. Anyway, all that’s left to do now is tidy up:

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The six tubtrugs from my Mum put to good use. In total, we filled 9 with rubble from the trench, and from the one remaining bit of concrete path. I love these bright buckets so much, you can throw pretty much any sort of rubble in them without fear of breaking them (guess what happened to my previous garden buckets).

The next step is to wait over winter for all the stuff in the trench to settle and rot down some, then next year I can start growing vegetables in it! :D

Creating a vegetable patch (part 1)

So three weekends ago I finally found myself home alone (the OH being off on an airsofting weekend) and able to garden guilt free without thinking that I should be doing house work or other less exciting things.

Three things were bugging me:

  1. The large pile of soil left at the end of the garden from when I had a soakaway put in 1.75 years ago was now absolutely covered in weeds. I did managed to dig out the small damson trees growing in it around September time (complete with unexpected root snapping followed by comedy falling backwards arse over tit), but not managed to do anything else on it since.
  2. The smaller pile of things I’ve bought but not yet planted.
  3. The inevitable onset of frosty weather as the year draws to a close.

With these in mind, I decided to weed the soil pile and turn it into a vegetable patch (and holding bed for all the things I didn’t have time to dig out a proper flower bed for – my garden is mostly grass, moss, weeds and hedge, with a few fruit trees on the side)..

First job, brave the compost bins, not touched for 18 months except to chuck stuff into the top.

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Wow, amazingly some of it had actually rotted down into useable compost! Apart from the egg shells, and oddly lettuce hearts. Note to self: In future, crush eggshells before adding to compost bins, or save dry, crushed egg shell to use as slug and snail repellent.

Then, to weeding. The next photo was taken halfway through the process:

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Whilst weeding, I found the little fellow below. Not sure what type of mushroom it is – I later went round to my friend Peter‘s house and looked it up in his fungi tome (apparently the definitive guide to British fungi) and we think it might be a velvet shank but there’s so many that I can’t be sure.

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Weeding completed, I forked through the whole patch and removed a large amount of rubble. I later discovered that this was the remains of a concrete path and its brick/hardcore foundation. Nice. Then I raked it level and went in for a cuppa. If you look carefully at the fence, you’ll see one plank is shorter than the rest. Whilst enjoying said cuppa, a robin came out of there and hopped all over the fresh earth, looking for worms and proclaiming himself king of my rake. I’ve not seen him since last winter, so I’m well chuffed there’s a robin about again!

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By this time it was about midday on Sunday. And as it’s now very late and I should sleep, I’ll continue the epic saga of vegetable patch creation tomorrow. I forgot just how long blog posts take to write, especially when trying to work out a new editor and why Flickr photos won’t post using the URL option.

Hello :)

This is the new blog for sleepy Gemma, crafty things will hopefully appear on a fairly regular basis, time, camera batteries and internet connection willing. Projects ongoing/things I like to do: Gardening, knitting, crochet, baking and DIY. Pretty standard list all told!