Temperature Afghan – January

So to my next challenge update, Temperature Afghan.

I’m actually having quite a bit of fun with this, watching it develop. If you remember these were the colours I chose for my afghan.tempafg

Well, as you can imagine there hasn’t been much temperature variation during January, it’s either been cold or VERY cold.

I’ve decided to do my afghan in straight rows, I had originally intended to do it in treble crochet (Double Crochet in US) as I was worried that any temperature changes that only last for a day wouldn’t show up very w2017-01-13_15-00-21_639ell. Unfortunately after a few days I began to realise that the resulting afghan would be huge! So I frogged the whole thing and started again with Double Crochet (Single crochet US)

 

 

 

 

Which is working out a whole lot better, and is looking quite interesting already.

I’ve also become a little obsessed with the weather, looking out for any significant temperature changes and getting excited when the temperature high for the day drops close to 0°C as I think that’s going to be a rare event and it’s such a nice colour on the chart. Oh well, Winter is not over yet, let’s see what February brings.

 

 

Reading Roulette – January

So, the first lucky dip of the year was ‘Andersen’s Fairy Tales’ by Hans Christian Andersen, from my classic fiction section.

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This ended up in the ‘reading roulette’ because I bought it many years ago, after a conversation with a work colleague about Fairy Tales. We talked about how fairy tales and folk tales are an intrinsic part of our childhood, and how many of these fairy tales we have actually read, and how many we have just heard about or seen adaptations of on TV. So, I saw this book and bought it, hoping that if indeed there were any popular fairy tales that I was only assuming I knew I could now re-educate myself. Well that debate fell by the wayside and the book was left forgotten on my bookshelf, until now.

First of all, I’m quite pleased to say that of the popular tales contained within this book that I already knew, it was because I had actually read them as a child.

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Highlighted titles of stories I read as a child

Not only that but my parents must have been keen for me to have the full experience as all the Andersen fairy tale endings (including the grisly ones) I knew. I mention this because there has been a lot of debate over the years about how some children’s publications, especially Disney tend to ‘soften’ the endings that haven’t particularly been nice ones. So, as a child, I was obviously given the bare bones endings, although some things were cleaned up a bit. For example, in my childhood version of ‘the tinder box’ the Witch did NOT have her head chopped off, but instead got so angry that she burst into a thousand pieces (I think there’s a lesson for us all there). Another differing aspect was the biblical themes and religious motifs within the stories, again that is something that was omitted from my childhood tales and whilst Andersen’s original tales would often attribute wondrous events to the workings of God, in my childhood tales they were usually the responsibility of fairies or elves.

So, back to my current publication ‘Complete and Unabridged’ which, eventually, I did enjoy. Unfortunately, it took a bit of getting into as Andersen’s style of writing is so dramatic and poetic, and the narrative so fantastical, that with even a little distraction (like a hyperactive dog wanting attention, or an interesting plot twist in the show my husband’s watching on telly) by the time my attention returned to what I was reading I had lost the essence of the story and had to re-read from the point I got lost. I found it best to read at times where I could just shut out the rest of the world and become absorbed in the story. Another delightful aspect of these stories are the memories they conjured up, as I read each familiar fairy tale I could visualise the illustrations that were in my story books as a child. Quite a few of which I still have.

Would I recommend this to others?

I’d have to say yes, whilst I do miss the simplicity and colour of my childhood tales, this book does have a lot more packed into it and with such descriptive detail that you can conjure up your own mental illustrations.

Challenge so far. .

3 Contemporary fiction:

  • The Ghost by Arnold Bennet
  • The watchmaker of filigree street by Natasha Pulley
  • Illumination by Matthew Plampin

 3 Classic fiction:

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Andersen’s fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson
  • Emma by Jane Austen

 3 Non-fiction:

  •  The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
  • The Running sky by Tim Dee
  • The field guide to Natural Wonders by Ian Whitelaw

 3 Hardbacks:

  • The long earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • Under the ivy: the life and music of Kate bush

 

 

2017 Challenges

So it’s the start of another year, but instead of doing resolutions this year I thought I’d do challenges.

 Challenge #1 – If you’ve read my previous posts you may have come across my ‘reading roulette’ idea. Which is basically a random way of picking my next book to read from the numerous books that have been sitting untouched on my shelves for years. So I’ve expanded on this idea for 2017. I’ve chosen 12 books that I have either never got around to reading or I have only just acquired and want to ensure I read them. These twelve books I have divided these into four categories and chosen 3 for each, I shall be picking one at random every month, and hopefully writing a little about it.

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In by twelve books I’ve chosen;

 3 Contemporary fiction:

  • The Ghost by Arnold Bennet
  • The watchmaker of filigree street by Natasha Pulley
  • Illumination by Matthew Plampin

 3 Classic fiction:

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Andersen’s fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson
  • Emma by Jane Austen

 3 Non-fiction:

  •  The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
  • The Running sky by Tim Dee
  • The field guide to Natural Wonders by Ian Whitelaw

 3 Hardbacks:

  • The long earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • Under the ivy: the life and music of Kate bush

 

Challenge #2 – Temperature Afghan

For those of you who do not know what one of these is, I’ll explain. Basically it’s an afghan where you knit/crochet a row or two of the afghan in a colour that is pre-chosen for the temperature high for that day, and at the end of the year you have a lovely multicoloured afghan.

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Temperature afghan for the year, divided into two separate afghans. Photo from knittingparadise.com

 

In my area the temperature high for the day rarely drops below 0 degrees and rarely goes above 30 degrees, so I’ve adjusted my gauge accordingly

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and again, once a month I’ll share my progress

Wish me luck!

The Random Reader (or Reading Roulette)

I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest questions I ever ask myself is “What should I read next?”

This is often a difficult question for me for many reasons, but mostly because I have a LOT of books. I have books that have sat, neglected, on my shelves for years as they no longer hold the appeal that they obviously had when I bought them. I have hard back books that I haven’t touched, because I always carry my ‘current read’ everywhere with me and the idea of doing that with a hardback makes my back cringe.

So as you can imagine, not long after venturing into my spare room/library to pick my next read i’m either wandering out again a few minutes later with an armful of books, hoping that through the course of the day they will somehow fight amongst themselves and the victor shall become my current read. Or, I end up a sobbing wreck on the floor when faced with the magnitude of such a decision.

Until that is, Fate stepped in (with the assistance of a book) and presented me with a solution!

After reading ‘The Dice Man’ by Luke Rhinehart, I was inspired!! Not to live my life as a Dice woman, good lord no, I’m far too much of a wuss to live my life that way. However, one decision I was willing to let the dice handle though was that ever troubling “What shall I read next?” one. So I adapted the decision making format, and found a way to take the pain and strain out an otherwise delightful venture. It’s like a lucky dip, where you win every time, and the prize is a book!!

This has actually been quite fun for me, and I also find that I’m more inclined to finish reading books that I find a little dull, as the ‘Pot’ has challenged me to read it, so I MUST!!

(and maybe one day, for the tech savvy amongst you, I or somebody with a bit more skill than me, will develop an app that can randomly pick from your ebooks too!)

Craft Challenge – February

This months ‘Craft Challenge’ has a bit of uniqueness about it, as it’s one of my few craft items that I’ve actually made for myself. It’s also some thing I made a couple of months ago, as I haven’t had much time for the project I intended for my February Craft Challenge and it’s now going to be my March one.

Last year I got a Fitbit Charge , for those of you unfamiliar with it I’ll explain. Fitbit Charge is essentially a digital pedometer, which is also a watch, and a gadget geeks dream!. It also (once you’ve set up your profile and inputted your data) tells you how many calories you’ve burnt that day, including whilst resting, how many miles you’ve walked and how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed. It tracks your sleep pattern and has a silent alarm which wakes you up with gentle vibrations. Basically, for me, it’s the perfect watch full of geeky technology and an inoffensive wake up system.

I do actually really love my Fitbit, which is why when the strap started to peel off I was slightly alarmed, but not too worried as a friend of mine had a Fitbit flex which she had a number of different bands for, so I knew I could just buy a replacement band when it came to it.IMG_0559 It wasn’t until about a month later when the band actually came apart I found out that Fitbit don’t actually do replacement bands for the charge. So after about a week of walking around with a watch held together with sellotape I did what any self respecting crafter would do . . . . and made my own band!

*Note, these aren’t actually instructions on ‘How To Make a Fitbit band’ but just illustrated steps on how I did it. If anyone is interested, I’m planning on making this into a ‘How To . . ‘ and posting it at a later date.

I basically used the same concept as a hair scrunchie, so measured my wrist, and added about a third of the length (for the ‘schrunching’ bit) then cut a bit of fabric that length, and because I was only using thin cotton and this band would be taking some pressure I needed to re-inforce the thickness of the fabric, so cut it with a width four times that of the Fitbit. The main difference between this and a scrunchie would be that the elastic wouldn’t be going all the way around, as the actual Fitbit itself is a couple of inches in length the elastic would just be covering the bit of my wrist that the Fitbit didn’t, so I measured that, pulled the elastic a little taut (but not too much, just a little to be comfortable enough when it pulls back) and cut it that length. So I now had the bits I needed to start creating.

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(Note the poor Fitbit held together with Sellotape)

Then joining the two ends together I stitched around only half, leaving the other half open creating a gap that I could slip my Fitbit into.

and voilà . . .

It may just be me, but I actually prefer this style of band. It’s much more snug, and can come in whichever design you wish. Maybe I need to have a little chat with Fitbit!
As mentioned earlier, these aren’t designed to be instructions, just to give you an idea of how I made mine, but I will be making them into instructions and posting them soon.

Is your Puppy your Baby?

As I sat down to write this post I was planning on talking about Poppy.

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Poppy is our 8 month old collie cross, and what motivated the post was the fact that the other week, for the first time since we got her, I had a full night’s sleep as I didn’t have to get up during the night to let her pee. This may sound a little exaggerated but trust me although dear husband (or ‘Daddy’ as we now refer to him) does do his doggy duties, daddy does sleep the sleep of the righteous and so all the nocturnal activities do generally fall to me. Now this marked a milestone as ever since then she’s slept through the whole night and so have I, and I’m not as knackered as I once was. So I started to wonder if this was the same feeling that new mummy’s get when their little one starts sleeping through the night.

Just as I started doing a little research I was shocked to find the amount of intense and passionate (to put it politely) articles and blog posts by mothers about how dogs are most definitely NOT anything like children, and how offended they are when people make comparisons.

So my post then took on a different hue, was I becoming one of those ‘weirdoes’ that these articles referred to that couldn’t discern between the love of a child and the trusting dependency of a dog? Was I offending biological mothers the world over by deigning to believe that Poppy and I had a similar bond? But as I read through these articles a funny thing happened, I not only started to question my relationship with Poppy but I was starting to feel a little inadequate as a human being, and more specifically a woman! That’s when I noticed it. One of the main defining points these articles were bringing up were how just “going to a kennel and pointing at ‘that one’ “ (which every dog owner will no doubt admit it wasn’t THAT easy!) doesn’t compare to the 9 months of growing and nurturing a baby, then the agony and elation of birth. Which is a little harsh as I can’t actually have children and so was left feeling bad about something which is a biological impossibility for me!

Then I looked at my little Poppy, curled up on the floor next to me as she always likes to be in the same room as me, and I remembered the day we got her from a farm. How timid and shy she was, and the two hours we spent on the floor of the farmhouse kitchen getting to know her. Her heart-breaking cries the first time we left her alone, and how proud we were the first time she peed outside.

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Poppy on her first day, the one and only day she was ever shy and timid.

How my heart was in my mouth the first time I let her off her lead to play with other dogs, how she runs to me when ‘daddy’ tells her off, or how she looks genuinely heartbroken when I tell her off, and I thought “bugger it! She IS our baby!”

So I do apologise if anybody finds this offensive as my post is not intended to inflame, but I find it a little unfair when people get on their high horse about the difference between having a puppy and a baby and in the process invalidating the feelings of the dog owners. Especially when one of their main points is the ‘9 months of carrying and nurturing a baby and the agonising birth’ but the joy and elation of having a child at the end of it. Well you know what? I did not have any of that, what I did have was 9 months of physical and emotional recovery after 3 months of carrying around a 2 ½ stone lump and a 4 hour operation to remove it, and the end of which I had the inability to EVER have children. So yes! Poppy is our baby. Yes! we do spoil her and arrange our lives around her, and yes! we do refer to each other as Mummy and Daddy around her, we find it fun and if we wish to believe it reinforces the idea that the bond between us is similar to that of a parent and child, so be it!

Craft Challenge – January

So, some of you may have noticed that when it comes to my crafts, especially my knitting, I’m a little bit ‘quirky’ and if I can’t find a pattern for what I want I’ll just make one up. This has led to a few interesting creations, and some eye-catching ones, to the point where at least once a month somebody that has seen one of my creations says those magic words to me “Can you make . . . ?”For example; my sister-in-law sees a hat she likes in a magazine, she sends me the picture with that magic question . . .

“Can you make one of these?”1424360_738667856162720_1562443955_n1459811_738667876162718_1824423503_nand after some experimenting the answer is “yes!

. . . and some gloves to match!”

 

 

 

So I thought I’d make a feature out of it, it might also keep me on the blog a bit more regularly. So welcome to my first ‘Craft Challenge’

This months one was a little different to start of with as a work colleague asked me “Can you crochet?” I’m always a little hesitant to answer this question as technically I can crochet but being a late bloomer I only really know the basics, and half of that I make up as I go along!

You see, I was knitting from a young age as I was taught to knit by my grandmother, my mother was the crocheter of the family but she was left handed so it was tricky to follow her when she showed me. Then in 2008 I went to a festival where a lady in a tent was showing people how to crochet and I picked up a few basic stitches, but never went any further with it as crochet patterns confused me a little and besides, I had my mother to crochet stuff. Then in 2012 my mother passed away, and I wanted to honour her by crocheting a little baby outfit she had wanted to make for my brothers new arrival. Again I found myself absolutely baffled by the instructions and terms and without anyone to show me what to do (I tried googling, but I learn a lot better by watching than reading), and the pattern just got shoved to the back of the craft cupboard, and I carried on getting by on just basics which suited me well, as I was able to incorporate a few crochet bits into my knitting (as you can see from the hat above) and even made a whole crocheted tea cosy, by just making it all up as I went along . . .1466254_10152357251456901_8438894568209531443_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when I was asked “Can you crochet?” after a little hesitation I answered “Yes, but mostly basic stuff” the next question  was “Can you crochet a giraffe?” never one to shy away from a challenge I said I’d give it a go, and waited in abject fear for her to send the link for the pattern to me, this is what she wanted ‘Crochet Giraffe’ and I was more than a little daunted but thought, hey why not!

Now I didn’t do the stripe effect as I didn’t want to over complicate myself first time out so just stuck with variegated yarn, with the idea of making an ‘experimental’ one before making one in the colours my colleague wanted, and you know what? It was bloody easy!!

I’m so chuffed with my crochet giraffes, and even showed my colleague both of them so she could pick for herself as even the experimental one didn’t turn out as funny looking as I thought it would, what do you think?

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So now when asked “Can you crochet?” with a little more confidence I can say “yes” which is good because I have a feeling I’ve got a challenge coming from my brother!

 

 

 

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